James Larkin: Standing Up for Workers’ Rights

James Larkin was born on Jan. 28, 1876, in Liverpool, England to Irish Parents. He grew up in the Liverpool slums and had little formal education. He worked different types of jobs when he was young to supplement his family income.

He eventually worked at Liverpool docks as a foreman. Larkin was a dedicated socialist, who believed that workers were not treated fairly. In the year 1905, he joined NUDL (National Union of Dock Labourers) and became a full-time organizer of the trade union.

The methods of Larkin militant strike alarmed the NUDL. In 1907, he got transferred to Dublin, where he established Irish Transport and General Workers Union. The union’s goal was to join all unskilled and skilled Irish industrial workers into one organization. He later established the Irish Labour Party. Read more: Jim Larkin – Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia

He was accountable for leading a string of strikes. The Dublin Lockout that happened in 1993 was the most important of these, where workers over 100,000 went on strike for almost eight months. Finally, they won the right to have a fair employment.

At World War I (WW1) outbreak, Larkin organized massive demonstrations of anti-war in Dublin. He traveled to the U.S. so that he could raise funds for fighting the British. Larkin was convicted of communism and criminal anarchy in 1920.

He was pardoned after three years and was deported to Ireland. In Ireland, he organized WUI (Workers’ Union of Ireland) securing Communist International recognition in 1924. In 1903 Larkin got married to Elizabeth Brown, and they had four children.

In 1913, at the era of Industrial dispute, Constance Markievicz got moved by the speech of Larkin. He said that as he was listening to Larkin, he realized that he was in the presence of what he had never met, a great primeval that was rather than a man.

The methods of Larkin used to be boycotting of goods and sympathetic strikes; he didn’t even once use violence on the strikebreakers.

The press of Ireland wasn’t on Jim Larkin side or his union, but still, he had a lot of supporters, including William Butler Yeasts, Constance Markievicz, and Patrick Pearse.