James Larkin, popularly known as Big Jim or Jim Larkin, was a prolific Irish trade unionist. He believed in the premise that a day’s work determines a day’s pay. Jim was born on January 1, 1876, to Irish parents in the informal settlements of Liverpool, England. He did not get the chance to attend school because of his parents’ inability to pay the required fees. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia
Jim made his debut in the employment industry as a casual worker, juggling between different manual jobs. He was later hired as a foreman before venturing into activism for trade unions. Jim was ambitious about helping people to get fairer working conditions.
He managed to become a member of the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL). He also became a full-time organizer for trade unions back in 1905.
Exit from NUDL
At NUDL, Jim Larkin was vocal about advocating for workers’ rights. He was relocated to Dublin because NUDL did not consent to his strike action methods. He came up with an organization known as the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU) in 1907 amidst his stay in Dublin. The organization catered for the welfare of skilled and unskilled Irish industrial workers.
Jim Larkin is credited for outlining a political policy at ITGWU that was meant to help workers of Irish descent. The policy stipulated that laborers had the right to a pension when one attains 60 years and works eight-hour working shifts. The policy was also inclusive of the nationalism of canals, compulsory arbitration courts, means of transport, and adult suffrage.
Irish Labour Party
In addition to drafting policies for ITGWU, Jim enlisted the help of James Connolly to form the Irish Labour Party. He used the party to orchestrate strikes against violations of the laborers’ rights. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/jim-larkin-released-from-prison
One of the notable strikes orchestrated by the Irish Labour Party is the 1913 Dublin Lockout. This strike involved over 100,000 laborers who protested for their rights for seven months before winning the rights to fair employment.
Jim Larkin in the U.S.
Jim traveled to the U.S. in 1914 to raise funds for his movements. In his pursuit, he joined the Industrial Workers of the World (WW) and the Socialist Party of America. He was deported back to Ireland back in 1920 before his death in 1947.