How Jim Larkin Organized Labor In Ireland

James (Jim) Larkin was one of the earliest workers rights supporters. He was born in 1876 to a poor Irish family that lived in Liverpool, England. Due to these circumstances he didn’t receive much in the way of an education and instead spent his youth doing manual labor.

When he was quite young he worked on the docks of Liverpool as a foreman. While serving in this position he became a member of the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL). When he was 29 he became a trade union organiser who liked to use militant strike methods to force employers to treat their workers better. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/

When he was 30 the NUDL organization moved him to Dublin, Ireland as the way he conducted strikes was not how they wanted to operate. Once he was in Dublin he established a new union, the Irish Transport and General Workers Union ITGWU).

All industrial workers in Ireland were invited to join regardless of whether or not they were skilled or unskilled labor. Read more: Jim Larkin | Biography and James Larkin | Ireland Calling

Jim Larkin had a number of demands of employers while running the ITGWU. He wanted the workday legally capped at eight hours. He wanted the unemployed to be taken car of and he wanted everyone to have a pension that would start at age 60.

As a socialist he also wanted every type of transport, such as railways and canals, to be collectively owned by the citizens of Ireland as well.

One of Jim Larkin’s biggest achievement occurred in 1912 when he and another labor organizer staged a series of strikes in Ireland. This activity carried over into 1913 and the biggest strike, supported by over 100,000 Irish workers, was called the Dublin Lockout. The strike lasted for about eight months and resulted in the workers earning the right to have fair employment.

In his personal life, Jim Larkin got married to Elizabeth Brown when he was 27 years old. They had four sons together.

During his career, he moved his family to America for a number of years but he was deported after being convicted of a few crimes related to his labor organizing methods. He moved back to Ireland and remained there the rest of his life.

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