Jim Larkin was a historical trade union leader as well as a social activist, one of the most vocal in his day. Born of Irish parentage in Liverpool, England, he was raised in poor and less than humble conditions and received little education.
In childhood, he began working a variety of jobs to help supplement the family income, after attending school in the mornings. This was a common practice among many poor families at that period of time.
When Jim was fourteen years of age, his father passed, and with that came an apprenticeship with the firm that his father was employed with. Unfortunately, that did not last, and after only two short years, he was dismissed from the firm.
After a period of being unemployed, Jim went on to seek employment as a sailor and docker. In the year 1903, he became a dock foreman, and in the same year married his wife Elizabeth Brown.
Before his being made a foreman in 1903, Larkin had already become a member of the Independent Labor Party, with a fervent interest in socialism. In 1905, he was one of the few foremen in number to take part in a strike on the Liverpool docks.
Larkin was officially elected to the strike committee. Unfortunately, as a result, he lost his foreman’s job. His efforts however, very much impressed the National Union of Dock Laborer’s (NUDL), and he was then appointed a temporary organizer.
This led later to a permanent position with the union, and in 1906 he was sent to Scotland. There he could unite workers to a most agreeable measure, both in Glasgow and Preston. Larkin was also very much against the immigration of the Chinese, seeing it as a threat and undercutting organized workers. Learn more about Jim Larkin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62B9_xQpw0A and http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm
Jim Larkin undertook many more important tasks between the years of January 1907-1914. Many of those tasks include uniting Protestant and Catholic workers. In 1908, Larkin had moved south and was uniting workers in Cork, Waterford, and Dublin with remarkable success.
But despite his success, Larkin was involved with a union dispute against union instructions in Dublin. Because of this dispute, Larkin was prosecuted for diverting union funds and was found guilty for embezzlement and sentenced to prison for one full year.
After having served three months of his prison sentence, and his sentence already having been unjust, Lord- Lieutenant, Lord Aberdeen had pardoned his sentence.
After the dismissal from the NUDL, Larkin decided to found the Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union at the latter part of December 1908. In 1909, he moved to Dublin, and that is where the main operations of the ITGWU resumed.
Larkin came to visit the United States and on November 8, 1919 was booked on the charge of “Criminal Anarchism” in the state of New York. There were reports of Larkin having helped to disrupt allied munitions shipments in New York City during WWI. He was sentenced to five to ten years in Sing Sing prison. He was jailed in 1920 and released in 1923, and deported by Governor Al Smith.
Jim Larkin died January 30, 1947 in Dublin. Throughout his life, he fought mainly for worker’s rights, for those who worked an honest day get honest pay and to get treated fairly, not like vermin. An honorable life’s work, when you really look at it.