James Larkin, Ireland’s Devoted Labor Organizer

Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union founder, James Larkin, was born in January 1876 in England. He grew up in the slums in Liverpool and, because of his family’s financial position, he had very little formal education. Learn more about James Larkin: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/easterrising/profiles/po08.shtml

He worked several jobs as a youth so that he could support his family and eventually landed a job at the Liverpool docks as a foreman.

He felt that workers were being treated unfairly and decided to join the National Union of Dock Labourers. By 1905, he had become a fully-fledged trade union organizer. His strike methods alarmed the union, and this led to his transfer to Dublin in 1907. This is where he founded the ITGWU. The purpose of the union was to bring together all Irish industrial worker, both unskilled and skilled. Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia and James Larkin | Biography

He then founded the Irish Labor Party and led quite a number of strikes. The 1913 Dublin Lockout, which saw more than one hundred thousand go on strike for almost eight months, was the most significant strike during his time. This strike brought about the right of fair employment. ITGWU had become the largest union in the region but, unfortunately, it fell apart after the lockout.

When World War 1 broke out, James Larkin traveled to the United States to try and raise funds that would aid in fighting the British. This was after he had staged anti-war demonstrations in Dublin. While in the US, he was arrested and convicted, in 1920, of communism and criminal anarchy. After three years, he was pardoned and deported back to Ireland.

James Larkin was a devoted activist and labor organizer. Even after he was deported, he continued his mission. He formed the Workers’ Union of Ireland, and in 1924, he was recognized by the Communist International for his great work.

His activism saw the prioritization of housing by Dublin Corporation and many other achievements. He was elected North-East Dublin’s Labor TD in 1943, a move which led to the splitting of the Labor party.

James Larkin was, in 1903, married to Elizabeth Brown and together they had four sons. He died in Dublin, Ireland in January 1947.

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