History informs us of all the important personalities and their contributions to the current world. When looking at some of the most influential historical figures especially in the labour community, James ‘Jim” Larkin is worth remembering.
He is popularly known for founding ITGWU (Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union). As a fervent Marxist, Jim Larkin was an influential man who steered the labour union in fighting for the workers’ rights.
Jim Larkin was born in Liverpool England in 1876. He grew up in the town’s slums and had very little access to formal education. To help his family get by, Jim Larkin had to do a number of odd jobs during his youth. He became a dedicated socialist who beloved that the workers in Liverpool were unfairly treated. He felt that he had the responsibility of changing this unfair tradition. This is how Jim got into activism. Read more: James Larkin | Biography
He joined NUDL (National Union of Dock Labourers) in 1905 and became an important figure in the organization. In 1907, James Larkin moved to Dublin and founded ITGWU. The organization brought together skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled workers.
Life as an Activist
Years later after the formation of ITGWU, Jim Larkin formed the Irish Labour Party and the movement engineered a number of strikes for workers’ rights. One notable demonstration is the Dublin Lockout in 1913 which invoked over 100,000 striking workers.
The strike ran for almost 8 months before their demands for fair employment were met. During World War I, Jim Larkin staged a massive demonstration against the war. He was arrested in 1920, convicted and released 3 years later.
Though long dead, the memory of Jim Larkin lives on in the books of history. His contributions, especially in fighting for the workers’ rights are worth celebrating.
He is a hero in the eyes of all who love history and the global labour community.