How James Larkin Rose from a Dockworker to an International Reformist

James Larkin was an Irish workers unionist who was born in Liverpool slums of England in 1876. He was brought up by his grandparents in Ireland but in his youth years returned to England to look for employment in 1885.

He landed in Liverpool docks where he did manual jobs and rose to the rank of a foreman in T. & J. Harrison Ltd. He did not stay long and was sent to Dublin, Ireland to organize the dock workers. Read more: James Larkin | Wikipedia and James Larkin | Biography

He continued to recruit more members to the union and continued to negotiate the plight of workers through organizing strikes and boycotts. His style of leadership did not go well with some union leaders, and he left the union.

He founded his Irish Transport and General Workers Union, which had branches in Derry, Drogheda, and Belfast. The union advocated for employment for all, nationalization of all transport systems, a pension scheme for workers who attained sixty years, Compulsory Arbitration Courts, and participation in voting processes.

It also included ‘legal eight hours’ a day programme. Apart from unions, James Larkin established his newspaper in 1911, the Irish Worker whose primary agenda was to name corrupt government officials and bad employers. The sales from the paper were deep meaning that it was positively embraced in Dublin.

The following year, 1912, Larkin in collaboration with James Connolly formed another movement, which was responsible for the Dublin’s biggest strike. The participants in the strike numbered to more than 100,000 workers and lasted for almost eight months.

James Larkin advised Irish people not to participate in the First World War. He organized anti-war demonstrations and later went to American to seek funding for the Irish independence struggle. While in America, he enrolled in other workers’ representation movements and in particular, the Social Party of America.

When he returned to Dublin, he continued with his fight for the benefit of workers. During his stay in Ireland, Jim formed another Union in 1924 and 1945 became a member of the Irish Labor Party. Jim Larkin continued with his fight for worker’s rights until 1947 when he met his death.

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