The Industrial Revolution brought a completely new way of life to the world. People started working in factories and other industrial settings. New problems with working conditions arose.
Some individuals put forth tremendous effort to create better working environments for people. One such individual is Jim Larkin, an Irish socialist who permanently changed the labour environment.
Jim Larkin was born in Liverpool in 1876 and died in 1947 in Dublin. He worked a variety of jobs in England, eventually joining the National Union of Dock Laborers.
The organization became unhappy with his militant strike methods, and transferred Larkin to Dublin in 1907. It was there that Larkin founded the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. It was his hope that all types of industrial workers could be in this single union.
Larkin organized demonstrations in Dublin, the most notable of which was the 1913 Dublin Lockout. This strike took place over eight months and involved over 100,000 workers. The strike eventually led to workers winning the right to fair employment.
After the lockout, Larkin traveled to the United States and attempted to make a living as a socialist speaker. Unfortunately for him, things did not go well and he wound up in prison and eventually deported in 1923. His popularity had waned back in Ireland, but Larkin was restored to good standing in the early 1940s. He was elected Labour TD for North East Dublin in 1943.
Today, this hero of the industrial worker is remembered for the phrase, “A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.” Jim Larkin’s commitment to the better working conditions of the common man have earned him a poignant place in Ireland’s history. Perhaps our modern employers could learn a thing or two from him.
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