Labor unions have been in existence for a long period. To be a labor union activist, one must possess the qualities of a good leader and must be ready to defend the rights of workers at all costs.
In Ireland, one such a person was Jim Larkin, a trade unionist, and labor activist. Jim was not deterred from his work even with the little education he had at the time. He worked towards what he believed in.
Jim Larkin was born on 21st January 1876 in Liverpool England, but his parents were of Irish origin. His family was poor hence he was brought up in Liverpool’s slums where the poor reside.
Due to his family’s financial status, Jim had little chance to get a good an education. To supplement his family’s income, he worked a lot of manual jobs during his youth before becoming a foreman in the docks. Read more: James Larkin | Biography
Mr. Larkin was a committed socialist, and he believed that workers were treated unfairly hence he wanted to advance their rights. He became a member of the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL). Larkin later in 1905 became a full-time organizer of the trade union.
However, Mr. Larkin’s active militant methods of striking alarmed NUDL which made him be transferred to Dublin. After being transferred in 1907, he founded the famous Irish Transport General Workers’ Union with a goal of uniting all Irish industrial laborers, both unskilled and skilled into one union.
In conjunction with James Connolly in 1912, Jim Larkin co-founded the Irish Labor Party which organized a series of strikes in Dublin, the most significant being 1913 Dublin Lockout leading over 100,000 workers in a strike which lasted for eight months. The strike was fruitful as the workers won their rights for fair employment.
At the start of WWI Jim organized a series of anti-war demonstrations. In 2014 he moved to the United States for an educational tour as well as raising money to fight the British. While in America, he joined the American Socialist Party and the then Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) creating bad blood with the American government.
While still in America, he still influenced Ireland’s the Easter Rising in 1916 where his friend James Connolly died. As a remembrance to his friend, he founded James Connolly Socialist club in March 1918 in New York.
Due to his Communist links and activities, he was perceived as a threat to the American government and was convicted of creating anarchy and communism in 1920. He was later pardoned after three years and consequently deported to Ireland.
In 1924, Jim Larkin organized the Worker’s Union of Ireland. In 1945, he became a full member of the famous Irish Labor Party. Until his death in 1947; he was active in advance for the rights of workers.