Jim “Big Jim” Larkin was best known for being an Irish trade union leader who played a major role during the labor movement in Ireland. Jim Larkin dedicated most of his life fighting for workers’ rights. He was born on January 30, 1876 in Liverpool, England, as the second eldest son to parents that emigrated from Northern Ireland.
Larkin grew up poor in a destitute neighborhood in Liverpool. Much of his younger days were spent working at various jobs to help put food on his family’s table, making it hard to receive a proper education.
This was unfortunately a common practice for the working class living in those days. Years after his father had passed away, he found work at the Liverpool docks as a docker and had also began his deep interest in socialism. Read more: Jim Larkin | Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia
Jim Larkin became a dock foreman in 1903 and married Elizabeth Brown later within that year. The Liverpool dockers demanded fair wages and soon formed a strike against their employer, Larkin was among the few foremen that participated during the strike.
The strike had led him to be demoted from his position as foreman, but he became a member of the National Union of Dock Labourers, or NUDL, after they took notice of his passionate performance during the strike.
They sent him to many locations to help organize strikes and recruit dock workers to the NUDL. Some of Larkin’s methods were becoming too much for the NUDL and they ultimately dismissed him from their union. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/books/the-definitive-biography-of-big-jim-larkin-372254.html and http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/jim-larkin-released-from-prison
In December 1908, Larkin founded the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. He would gain the trust and became an affiliate of a few NUDL groups located in Dublin and its surrounding areas.
His dream was to have all Irish industrial workers to work under one union and receive fair wages for their work.
As time passed, tensions grew between two of Dublin’s major industrial employers and Larkin’s ITGWU workers. The workers went on a series of boycotts and strikes that lasted for over seven months. This strike was known as the 1913 Dublin Lockout and it was a pivotal moment in Irish history.