James Larkin

James Larkin, otherwise known by his friends as “Big Jim,” and by others as “Jim Larkin,” was a trade unionist. He liked using the phrase: “A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.”

James Larkin was born in Liverpool on 21 January 1876 and grew up in the slums. His family was poor. Therefore James had to forfeit his education at an early age to pursue manual jobs. After his father’s demise, he started working better jobs and provided for his family.

James Larkin was a socialist as he worked as a docker and sailor. He then became a foreman at the Liverpool Docks, and a strike that involved several foremen there in which he took part gained him a position in the National Union of Dock Laborers, NUDL. He became a permanent member of NUDL in 1905, and thus a full-time trade unionist. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm

Leadership Squabbles between Jim Larkin and the general secretary of NUDL, James Sexton, made the former to move to Dublin. It is while he was there that he engaged in militant strike methods, which NUDL opposed. He was dismissed from the union in 1907, and he started one of his own; the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. In doing this, Jim intended to bring together under one organization, Irish workers both skilled and unskilled.

Four years later, James Connolly aided Larkin in forming the Irish Labor Party which was to be witnessed in many Dublin strikes. The party-led Dublin Lockout of 1913 led over 100,000 workers on an eight-month strike. As it ended, workers gained a right to fair employment.

James Larkin went to the United States of America in 1914. There, he joined the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World. His friend, James Connoly died in the Ireland Easter Rising, 1916, while Larkin was in America. To honor his memory, James Larkin formed the James Connolly Socialist Club.

He was convicted of communism and criminal anarchy in 1920. He was pardoned, and the charges dropped in 1923. James was then deported to Ireland, where he organized the Workers’ Union of Ireland. He established the union in 1924 and joined the Irish Labor Party later on.

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