James Larkin (Big Jim) was a born January 21, 1876 in the slums of Liverpool, England to an Irish family. He is considered a great socialist that believed all workers should be treated fairly and spent a great deal of his life fighting for that treatment.Born to a extremely poor family unfortunately Jim had to start working at a very young age to help support his family.
At some point being a foreman for the Liverpool docks. Because he was poor and working at such a young age Jim Larkin had little to no formal education, but that didn’t stop him from leading an extraordinary life. In 1903 he married Elizabeth Brown and had four sons.
And in 1905 he began that extraordinary life by becoming a full-time trade union organizer for national union dock laborers (NUDL). At this point in time less than 10% of Irish workers were unionized, with the majority in British unions.
Many of the activists including Jim Larkin felt very neglected and overall ignored by the British labor and wanted an Irish based union. So in 1907 Jim founded The Irish transport and general workers union(ITGWU).
With that union he wanted to bring all Irish industrial workers together into this one organization, where they could make sure they were all treated more fairly. Later on he also formed the Irish labor party and lead a series of peaceful strikes.
The most noted strike was the 1913 Dublin lockout. More than 100,000 people went on strike for seven months, winning fair employment by the end.
He was always peaceful on his strikes, because he knew that he would never been able to build a mass trade union if he destroyed the company his members worked for. And for that and his success in helping so many his union ended up being the region’s biggest union.
That lead him to a position in outlining the political program of the ITGWU in 1908. This included eight hour work days and pensions for all workers over 60 years old.
Even with all the good he did for his members the Irish press were against him, but that didn’t matter he had other supports such as Patrick Pearse and William Butler Yeats.
He was a very empathetic and modest person with his union members, but when faced with a rival he could be petty and jealous.
In 1914 when world war one started Jim Larkin openly opposed it by organizing large anti-war demonstrations were he would call to all Irishmen asking them to stay out of the war.In 1914 he also went to the United States for a lecture tour, and to raise funds for his fight against the British.
While in America he joined the socialist party of America and the Industrial workers of the world. During all his work with in America a friend of his died. James Connolly died in 1916 in the Easter rising in Ireland.
A few years later in New York on March 17,1918 Jim founded the James Connolly socialist club in honor of his good friend.
Later on back in England he was convicted of criminal anarchy and communism, but pardoned three years later. He died January 30, 1947 in Dublin, England, but not before he organized The workers union of Ireland. He was a great man that worked his entire life to ensure his people were treated fairly, some even called him a hero.
Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://ireland-calling.com/james-larkin/