Jim Larkin is a well-known trade union leader and socialist activist who help founded the Irish Labour Party in 1912. Born and raised in Liverpool, England, on January 21, 1876, Larkin had a very poor upbringing and mostly worked in odd jobs throughout his childhood to help his family out. His working class parents came from Northern Ireland and had emigrated to England before he was born.
In 1885, Larkin had started work as a Liverpool dock laborer and sailor. During his time as a docker he had already taken quite an interest in socialism and would later join England’s Independent Labour Party in 1893.
Jim Larkin was granted a higher position in 1903 and would serve as a foreman dock-porter. As his work life started to take a turn for the better, he quickly married Mrs. Elizabeth Brown during September 8th of that year. By 1905, the local dockers began a dispute with their employers and demanded fair wages and better working conditions. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/ and http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm
Larkin participated in the dispute and it resulted in losing his foreman dock-porter job. The National Union of Dock Labourers appointed him as one of their trade union organizers and sent him off to several cities in Scotland for his first duties as a union member.
Although he was naturally a skillful union organizer, the NUDL had to remove him from the union because of his strike methods. In 1908, Jim Larkin moved to Dublin, Ireland, to establish his own trade union organization, the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, ITGWU. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and James Larkin | Ireland Calling
He continuously fought for workers’ rights across Ireland as well as support other organizations in the area. His desire was for Ireland’s industrial labor force to work under one union.
The ITGWU had gained over 10,000 members by 1912 and many employers of Dublin opposed Larkin’s trade unionism. They gave all of their workers under the ITGWU a choice to save their employment or become locked out.
The infamous ‘1913 Dublin Lock-out’ had occurred afterwards and more than 20,000 laborers went against 300 employers in non-violent strikes and boycotts. The workers had vigorously fought for fair pay and employment.