James Larkin: Champion For Irish Labourers

James Larkin is a prominent figure in the history of labour unions and activism. Born in 1876 in Liverpool, England, Larkin was of Irish descent. He came from very modest beginnings and had various jobs in his youth to help earn income for the family. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://ireland-calling.com/james-larkin/ and http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/jim-larkin-released-from-prison

After working his way up to foreman at the Liverpool docks, James Larkin felt that workers were being treated unfairly and he adopted socialism as his philosophy.

In 1905, to address his concerns over the mistreatment of workers by unscrupulous employers, Larkin joined the National Union of Dock Labourers.

There, he became a full-time union organizer. By 1907, Larkin was transferred to Dublin because his militant approach to handling negotiations was unnerving to union leaders. These were not the only feathers he would ruffle over the course of his lifetime.

Once in Dublin, James Larkin founded the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. Both skilled and unskilled Irish industrial workers were brought together under one union. During this time, Larkin formed the Irish Labour Party and led several strikes, most notably the 1913 Dublin Lockout.

Over 100,000 Irish workers went on strike for almost 8 months, resulting in their gaining the right to fair employment.

James Larkin also gained a great deal of fame as a labour union champion after this conflict. However, in addition to the international notoriety, it took a great toll on his health. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and James Larkin | Wikipedia

In October of 1914, Larkin traveled to the United States for what many thought was a recovery period. In truth, his real intention was to begin another career as a public speaker.

There was not much success for Larkin as a Socialist speaker, and he began to collaborate with the Germans in order to support his lifestyle. After eventually falling out with the Germans, Larkin transitioned from socialism to communism.

By 1919, Larkin was arrested and spent time in prison for criminal anarchy. He was later pardoned in 1923 and deported to England. After returning to Dublin, James Larkin was actively involved in various capacities with the Irish labour unions until his untimely death in 1947.

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