Jim Larkin the Man Who Revolutionized Trade Unionism

Jim Larkin, a trade unionist, was born on 21 January 1876 in Liverpool England. He was born in the slums thus, he had very little formal education. To enhance his family earnings he took several manual jobs and eventually was employed as a foreman at the Liverpool docks.

Jim Larkin joined and became a full-time trade union organizer of the National Union of Docks Laborers (NUDL) in 1905. In 1907 he was transferred to Dublin by the NUDL due to his militia strike methods. In Dublin, he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) with an objective to unite all Irish workers skilled and unskilled into a single organization. Read more: James Larkin | Biography

He delineated the political agenda of ITGWU in 1908 where he demanded that workers should only work eight hours a day, the unemployed should be provided with jobs and all workers who are 60 years of age should be given pensions. He also demanded that all means of transport and canals be nationalized, adult suffrage and formation of compulsory arbitration courts.

Later, in 1912, he formed the Irish Labor party and was responsible for a series of strikes. The most noteworthy was the 1913 Dublin Lockout strike which lead to over 100,000 workers striking for almost eight months, ultimately winning the right to fair employment.

Due to his strike methods, the Irish press was against him, but he had many supporters including Constance Markievicz, William Butler Yeats, and Patrick Pearse. He never used violence, he simply used sympathetic strike method and boycotting of goods.

Jim Larkin held anti-war demonstrations in Dublin during the outburst of the First World War asking the Irish people not to be engaged in the war. He wrote in the Irish Worker “Stop at home. Arm for Ireland. Fight for Ireland and no other land.” In 1914, he traveled to the U.S.A. for a lecture tour as well as to raise funds to fight the British.

Here Jim joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Socialist Party of America. While in The U.S. the Easter Rising took place in Ireland and his friend James Connolly died in the process. On March 17th, 1918 he established the James Connolly Socialist Club in New York which turned out to be the center of Left-wing activities.

In 1920 he was convicted of communism and criminal lawlessness and was pardoned three years later. He was deported back to Ireland where he launched the Workers Union of Ireland(WUI) and became a member of the Irish Labor Party in 1945 He continued working for the reimbursement of workers until his death on 30th January 1947.

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