Jim Larkin

Jim Larkin (21 January 1876-30 January 1947) was born to Irish parents in Liverpool, England. He started working part-time as a child and going to school in the mornings. His family moved to Burren, southern County Down, in Ireland. Jim Larkin attempted an apprenticeship at the firm his father had worked for until his father died, and he was fired in two years.

He found employment as a sailor and a dock foreman (1903). He started organizing unions in 1905, and headed a foreman’s strike on the Liverpool docks as they fought for better conditions.

He joined the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL), as a temporary organizer. Larkin managed to succeed in uniting Catholic and Protestant workers to fight for reduced hours spent working. He had one goal as an activist, which was to create a union fighting for worker’s rights.

In 1908, as part of Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGW), he fought for an 8-hour day, more work for unemployed people, and pensions for workers 60 or older. In 1912, the Irish Labor Party was formed. In 1913, the Dublin Lockout was this group’s signature protest action. Read more: Jim Larkin – Biography

100,000 workers went on strike for better conditions. In 1914, Jim Larkin immigrated to the United State, which disappointed some. He joined the Socialist Party of America as well as the Industrial Workers of the World Union. He became sympathetic to the Soviets. Larkin left the Socialist Party of America.

Jim Larkin joined the American Communist Party and was jailed in 1920. In 1923, he was pardoned by Al Smith, the governor of New York who deported him back to Ireland where there was a Civil War.

Larkin was charged with libel on Tom Johnston, a British activist from Soviet Red International of Labor Unions. He also joined The Communist Party of Great Britain activist Bob Stewart who wanted to establish a communist party with Larkin but was unsuccessful.

He attempted to run for office in 1927 although he could not take office because he owed money. In 1936, he regained his Dublin Corporation job. By the year 1941, a new trade union bill, was established.

Larkin campaigned against this bill successfully since it involved restructuring trade unions in a way that the workers did not necessarily agree with. He served as Labor Party Deputy from 1943-1944 in Dáil Éireann and died in his sleep on 30 January 1947.

 

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