James Larkin-A Man for the People

James Larkin was a well-known labor and union organizer in Ireland during the early 1900’s. He was born in Liverpool, England in 1874 to a family of little means which resulted in James receiving little formal education. He quit school to become a foreman on the Liverpool docks and help his family financially.

Larkin excelled at work and soon adopted the socialist philosophy that the welfare for some meant the welfare for all. He felt very strongly that workers should be treated fairly and soon joined the National Union of Dock Laborours (NUDL). Read more: Jim Larkin – Biography

Larkin’s leadership skills soon promoted him to be a full-time labor organizer in 1905. He worked and petitioned for the formation of unions to ensure good working conditions and fair wages for his fellow docks men.

As time passed, James Larkin began to use extreme methods in organizing strikes and he was soon labeled a militant by even members of the NUDL. Due to his notoriety, Larkin was transferred to Dublin in 1907. Here, he founded the “Irish Transport and the General Work Union.”

Larkin was determined to group skilled and unskilled workers together in one big Union. These determined goals led to the establishment of the Irish Labor Party and Larkin was the leading force behind such major strikes as the Dublin Lockout where over 100,000 workers won the right to fair employment after a lengthy 10-month strike.

World War I brought, even more, challenges to James Larkin’s life. He organized anti-war meetings and even traveled to America to raise funds to oppose the British. Learn more about Jim Larkin: https://www.biography.com/people/james-larkin-215214

James Larkin was charged as a communist and of criminal anarchy and deported to Ireland. He was later pardoned. He received awards in 1924 for his devotion to the Communist Party.

As far as his personal life, James Larkin married Elizabeth Brown in 1903 and together they had four sons. He remained active even in his later years. His opposition to the 1941 Labor Act was lauded throughout Ireland.

He is remembered for his nonviolent stance and his ability to stir crowds with his words and passions. Not always known for his tact or following the rules of even his own organizations, he nevertheless holds a significant place in the labor union history of Ireland.