“A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.” That was one of James Larkins, also known as Jim, favourite phrases. Born January 21, 1876 in Liverpool, England Jim Larkin had very little education growing up.
His poor Irish parents had a lot of trouble making enough money to support their family. So, at a young age James Larkin went to work instead of school.
He worked in many manual jobs eventually ending up at the Liverpool docks as foreman. Jim was a socialist and believed very strongly that workers were not treated well and he was extremely committed to fixing that.
In 1905 he joined the National Union of Dock Labourers, or NUDL, and then became a full-time trade union organiser.
Two years later the NUDL became afraid of Jim Larkins methods and sent him to Dublin where he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union(ITGWU). Larkin wanted to have one union for all of Ireland’s industrial workers, not only the skilled but unskilled as well.
By the end of 1908 he had put together a political program that would greatly help the people in the ITGWU. That program included pensions for all workers at 60 years old and an eight hour work day.
Jim Larkin and James connolly worked together in 1912 to form the Irish Labor Party where he lead several strikes.
One of the most famous and significant strikes Jim lead was the Dublin Lockout in 1913. After almost eight months and more than 100,000 workers on strike they won the right to fair employment.
Jim Larkin never used violence in his strikes but instead had sympathetic strikes and boycotting of goods. He understood that destroying the businesses were not going to help the people but hurt them. Read more: James Larkin | Ireland Calling and Jim Larkin | Biography
When the First World War came Jim Larkin fought against that too. He held anti-war demonstrations in Dublin, asking Irishmen not to get involved. In 1914 he went to the United States for a lecture tour that did not go as planned.
Jim Larkin was convicted of communism in 1920 and sent to sing sing. After spending three years in sing sing he was pardoned in 1923 and deported back to Ireland.