The Life of Activist James Larkin

Activist James Larkin was the founder of the Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union

The organization was founded in January of 1909. Larkin was often referred to as “Big Jim”.

Lacey was born in 1876 on January 21st. Jim’s child life in Liverpool was not filled with education. He worked at a variety of different jobs before finally becoming a foreman. This led him to join the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL). This sparked his initial interest in getting fair treatment and working conditions for workers.

After this position, he became a trade union organizer. Larkin fostered his commitment to unfairly treated workers. Jim held Marxist idealogies and employed the use of militant strike methods which resulted in his expulsion from NUDL. After being kicked out, the Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union was founded.

For Larkin, part of the goal of the Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union was to get as many Irish workers as possible, whether they were skilled or not. Unskilled workers were represented as equals to skilled workers. He’s known for using the phrase, “A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay”.

Larkin led the infamous 1913 Dublin Lockout. This infamous strike resulted in an eight month strike involving 100,000 workers. The union achieved a successful outcome from the strike and won fair employment rights. Other strikes initiated by Larkin include Dublin’s anti-war demonstrations and American fundraising for British fighting.

A part of Larkin’s political programme was a pension for workers aged 60 as well as a number of other benefits. He took an anti-war stance and let his opinion be known as the first World War emerged. Read more: James Larkin | Biography

Jim Larkin formed the Labour Party with the help of James Connolly in 1912. He encouraged boycotting the purchase of goods and strikes. Larkin had to face the Irish press being against him and his methodologies even though he was careful enough to not incite violence.

Jim Larkin has been called a “great primeval force rather than a man” by politician and socialist Constance Markievitz. His other supporters included William Butler Yeats and Patrick Pearse. Yeats authored a poem which was widely believed to be related to the Dublin Lockout called September 1913. Larkin continued his mission as an activist until his death in 1947.

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