How James Larking fought for the Rights of Irish Workers

Published / by soundproof

James Larkin was an activist and labor organizer who was well known in Ireland for his commitment to fighting for the right of workers. He was the founder of one of the largest labor unions in the country, which was called the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU).

Larkin headed the organization well until when he traveled to the United States in 1914. He was known for being a passionate Marxist who fought for the rights until the 1940s.

Jim Larkin was bred in the shanty parts of Liverpool, England. His parents were low-income earners, and therefore, he did not have a chance to access good education. Instead, Jim had to look for a job so that he could raise some extra money for his family and himself. He was once offered a job as a foreman at the Liverpool dock.

As a devoted socialist, Larkin felt like most of the employees at the dock were not being treated well. He decided to register as a member of the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL) and had become a full-time trade unionist by the end of 1905.

While he was a member of the NUDL, James utilized in militant strike tactics when enforcing industrial action, and this made him be transferred to Dublin in 1907.

When living in Dublin, he created the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, which was a trusted body that strived to unite all the skilled and unskilled employees who served in Irish industries. Larkin’s popularity rose after a while, and he started the Irish Labor Party, which was a union that was famous for organizing several strikes in the country.

The largest industrial action that he led was known as the 1913 Dublin Lockout. More than 100,000 individuals failed to go to work for over eight months. The strike resulted in improved working conditions for the employees.

Another major accomplishment of the activist was being the leader of massive anti-war protests that were in Dublin at the inception of World War I. After a while, he went to the United States to try and source for money to support Ireland in the war against Britain. Jim was jailed for criminal anarchy and communism when he was in the U.S.

He was imprisoned for three years and was later forgiven and deported to Ireland. Larkin then decided to establish the Worker Union of Ireland. In 1924, the Communist International appreciated him for his outstanding performance as a labor unionist.

Under the leadership of Jim, WUI protested a bill that was approved in 1941 to restructure trade unions. It affected small unions and British Unions that had established branched in Ireland. The passing of the law made Larkin join the Labor Party where he served as a deputy.

He was an advocate for employee rights until when he passed at the Meath Hospital in 1947. Jim was buried at the Glasnevin Cemetery. His outstanding work as a labor unionist has made him be recognized as a historical figure in Dublin.

Learn more about Jim Larkin: