James Larkin was born in 1876. His parents were Irish and poor, so he grew up in the slums of Liverpool. Despite this, Jim Larkin who is also known as Big Jim, worked so hard to provide daily needs to his family.
When James Larkin was seven years old, he went to school and later in the afternoon, went to work. Because of these severe conditions, Larkin did not receive much education.
Before becoming a foreman at the Liverpool docks, Jim was a foreman, and before that, he did manual jobs. This was due to losing his position at his father’s firm, which rendered him jobless for two years.
He married Elizabeth Brown in August 1903 and became a trade union organizer in 1905 after joining the National Union of Dock Labourers. Being a firm and determined socialist, he knew the problems that many workers went through. He, therefore, dedicated his time to fighting for their rights.
James Larkin moved to Dublin in 1904 because of getting into a disagreement with James Sexton who was the secretary general of NUDL. In 1905, Jim was released from NUDL because of his strike methods which were alarming and unacceptable to the union.
He then settled in Dublin and formed the Irish Trade and General Workers’ Union. The union was to be general, with the aim of uniting all industrial workers of Irish descent, whether skilled or unskilled.
With the help of his friend James Connolly, Jim Larkin formed the Irish Labor Party in 1912. James led a series of strikes in Dublin under the party. The Dublin Lockout is the most memorable one. It took place in 1913, and 100,000 workers went on a strike which lasted eight months. Read more: James Larkin | Biography
The reason was that they wanted a change to the limitation of rights of unskilled workers. The strike ended with all workers acquiring fair rights to employment.
James Larkin never used violent methods in the strikes that he organized and held. He believed in peaceful methods, like sympathetic strikes and boycotts. He reasoned that he would never achieve a mass movement if he destroyed the firms in which the members worked in.
Despite the negativity of the press against James Larkin and his union, the man inspired several supporters among Constance Markievicz and William Butler Yeats. James went to the USA in 1914 for a lecture tour.
He also wished to offer funded support against the British, following the outbreak of the First World War. However, he was convicted in 1920 for criminal anarchy and socialism. He got pardoned in 1923 and was deported to Ireland the same year.
Learn more about Jim Larkin: