James Larkin: ‘Roll The Union On’

James Larkin was both a labor leader and an Irish activist. He launched the labor group named the Irish Transport & General Workers’ Union. The organization went on to become the region’s largest labor union. Larkin was born in Liverpool, England, on January 21, 1876.

England

Raised in the slums, Larkin didn’t have much of a formal education. He worked numerous jobs to supplement the family income. He eventually took the job of foreman on the docks in Liverpool. He took an interest in socialism.

Larkin had other interests, too. He met Elizabeth Brown. They married in 1903. As time went on they would eventually become the proud parents of four sons.

He joined the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL). In 1905, just two years following his marriage, Larkin took on the full-time job of the trade union organizer. His reportedly rather militant methods of striking frequently was a concern of the labor organization. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm

Ireland

This led to Larkin’s being transferred to Dublin, Ireland just two years later. It was there that he founded the ITGWU. Indeed, it was James Larkin’s dream to gather together every single skilled and unskilled industrial worker in the nation.

Larkin’s next move was to found the Irish Labour Party. He led a number of several strikes with the Irish Labour Party. The Dublin Lockout of 1913 is believed to be the most famous of them. Larkin headed more than 100,000 laborers on a strike that lasted for nearly eight months and finally won the men fair employment. Soon after this successful lockout, the ITGWU disbanded.

After World War I broke out, he launched a large anti-war protest. Additionally, in 1914 he traveled to the USA to solicit donations to aid in his conflict with the British. He was arrested in 1920 and found guilty of both communism and criminal anarchy.

Three years later, he was pardoned and deported back to Ireland. The following year Larkin founded the Workers’ Union of Ireland (WUI). He received official recognition from Communist International. He passed away on January 30, 1947, in Dublin, Ireland.