James Larking was an Irish activist and accomplished labor organizer who started the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU). He was born in January 1876 in Liverpool, London. His union ITGWU was the biggest in the region. However, it fell apart sometime after the Dublin Lockout.
After that, Larking moved to the United States of America in 1914 only to be deported nine years later. Larkin was an ardent Marxist who, upon his return to Ireland, continued his labor organizing activities into the 1940s. He died in Dublin, Ireland, on January 30, 1947, and was survived by his wife, Elizabeth Brown, and four sons.
James Larking was a passionate Irish labor leader who brought together workers thanks to his ideas and leadership. He had a humble upbringing while growing up in Liverpool’s slums. Moreover, he received little formal education but never allowed this to hinder his goals.
To supplement his meager family income, he held several different jobs in his youth. He eventually rose to become a foreman at the local docks. His experiences in informal employment coupled with his need to help his colleagues saw him join the NUDL (National Union of Dock Laborers). Read more: James Larkin | Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia
His membership allowed him to interact with other union members and stirred a passion in him. By 1905, he left his job to organize trade union activities on a full-time basis.
James Larkin held militant strikes to demand the rights of union workers, which alarmed the NUDL leadership. Consequently, he was transferred to Dublin, Ireland, where he started the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU). The union’s goal was to bring together all Irish industrial workers, unskilled and skilled, under one umbrella.
Jim Larkin later led a series of strikes under his newly formed Irish Labour Party. The most notable strike held by the party was the famous Dublin Lockout organized in 1913. It lasted for almost eight months and involved over 100,000 workers. The strike ended only after the workers won the right to have fair employment.
During the start of World War One, Larkin staged anti-war demonstrations throughout Dublin. He later traveled to the United States of America to raise funds to fight his home country Britain.
His efforts angered the status quo and saw him arrested in 1920 under the allegation of communism and criminal anarchy. In 1923, he was pardoned and deported back to Ireland. Back home, he continued organizing worker’s unions.
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