Irish labor leader and social advocate, James Larkin identified and revolutionized trade unions through his empathic ambition to build one big union for all workers.
Larkin was born in 1876 in Liverpool, England to Irish parents. During his youth, he worked in an assortment of jobs ultimately turning out to be a foreman at the Liverpool dockyards.
He was recognized for getting the workers just and equitable conditions and joined the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL). He went on to become a full time trade union organizer. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/ and http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/easterrising/profiles/po08.shtml
Larkin was transferred to Dublin where he founded the Irish Transport & General Workers Union (ITGWU). Larkin’s ambition for the ITGWU was to combine all Irish industrial workers into one union that would benefit both experienced and inexperienced workers.
He set out to establish an eight hour work day, retirement funds for all workers at the age of 60, compulsory arbitration courts, among other objectives.
Larkin teamed up with James Connolly to form the Irish Labour Party which was responsible for leading a run of strikes. The most noteworthy strike, the 1913 Dublin Lockout, involved more than 100,000 workers who went on strike for more than seven months and ultimately gained the right to fair employment. Read more: James Larkin | Biography
At the start of World War 1, Larkin held several large anti-war protest rallies in Dublin. He also traveled to the United States to raise funds where he joined the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World.
He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for taking part in the workers’ movement. After three years he was shown leniency, pardoned and extradited to Ireland.
Larkin continued to take part in the activities of trade unions until his death in 1947. Larkin and his wife Elizabeth had four sons.