Bluegrass Game

Jim Larkin in the History of Trade Unionism

James Larkin, known by others as Jim Larkin or Big Jim was born in Liverpool, England on 1876. He grew up in slums and went to school till for a period, and only acquired some level of formal education.

James had to work extra hard to supplement his family’s needs. His father passed on while he was the age of 14. He then took over his position at the firm that he worked in. In 1892, James Larkin was dismissed from the company. He later became a foreman in the Liverpool Docks.

He married Elizabeth Brown on September 8, 1903. They had four sons. While working at the docks, James took part in a strike at the docks. The National Union of Dock Laborers, UNDL developed an interest towards him. In 1905, James Larkin became a permanent member of the union. He wanted to fight for the rights of workers because he felt that they were not treated fairly.

Two years later, James Larkin got into a disagreement with James Sexton, the secretary general of UNDL. The disagreement was due to the leadership of the union. A permanent rift soon developed between the two. James then moved to Dublin, the same year. When he led workers to militant strikes without prior permission from UNDL, he got dismissed from the union.

James Larkin went on to practice his full-time activism and trade unionism. He formed the Irish Traders General Workers’ Union. With ITGWU, he hoped to unite all the Irish into one organization, without discrimination on skill basis. Read more: James Larkin | Biography

The Irish Labor Party that he formed soon after ITGWU was responsible for several strikes in Dublin, including the Dublin Lockout which took place in 1913. It involved more than 100,000 workers going for an eight-month strike. They advocated for fair employment, something that was achieved after the eight months.

James Larkin wanted to travel places and keep advocating for workers’ rights. He soon went to the USA after the outbreak of the First World War. He wanted to offer his funded support in fighting the British. But his travel to the USA led to James Larkin’s conviction in 1920. He was pardoned and deported back to Ireland in 1923.

Jim formed the Workers Union of Ireland to keep fighting for the rights of workers. It happened that during his time, unskilled workers were either not employed or were paid meager wages. Having been brought up under harsh conditions, he knew how the struggle was not easy.

Learn more about Jim Larkin:

http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm
http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/books/the-definitive-biography-of-big-jim-larkin-372254.html