THE WORKERS’ ACTIVIST: JAMES LARKIN

James Larkin, a renowned workers’ activist, was born in 1876 to Irish parents in Liverpool. Due to the poverty in his family, he did not get a formal education. Plagued with poverty, Larkin opted to do manual labor to supplement his family’s income. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm

This path of manual labor led him to the Liverpool Docks where he, worked as a foreman. It is during this time that he joined the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL) and his socialist views came to the forefront.

Larkin’s methods of advocating for workers’ rights were not acceptable to NUDL, and he was, therefore, transferred to Dublin IN 1907 where he formed the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union.

At that time, very few Irish workers had unionized and were suffering under terrible working conditions. Jim Larkin led many industrial strikes in both parties that he co-founded; the most famous was the 1913 Dublin Lockout where for eight months 100,000 workers went on strike.

Unfortunately, his glory years as an activist dwindled, and in 1914 he left Ireland with the idea of being a public speaker across the world. At the beginning of the First World War, he led protests against the war calling for the Irish people to defend Ireland only and not fight for any other nation.

Furthermore, Jim Larkin tried to raise funds from the United States to fight the British. Unfortunately, in 1920 he was found guilty of criminal anarchy and communism and jailed. Three years later he was, however, pardoned and deported back to Britain.

Back in Dublin, Larkin was not welcome to his former union which greatly disillusioned him. His brother and his son formed the Workers’ Union of Ireland (WUI) which was more pro-communism. It was in this union that he served until his death in 1946.

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