James Larkin, also known as Jim Larking, was an England native who is well known as the founder of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union as well as being an activist and labor organizer. He was married to Elizabeth Brown and the two had four sons.
Larkin was born in Liverpool, England on January 21, 1876 to a poor family. The early years of his life were spent in the slums of Liverpool.
Instead of earning a formal education Larkin learned what he could when he could. When he became old enough, though still young by today’s standards, he began working a handful of odd jobs to supplement his family’s low income.
They were messy, hard and didn’t pay well. James Larkin usually didn’t stick around these jobs for long. However, after some time, he was able to work his way up and become a Liverpool dock foreman. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/
From this small position of power Larkin was able gain a foothold to follow his greater passions. As a socialist who wanted laborers to be treated fairly, he found his calling at the National Union of Dock Labourers. He joined the union in 1905 and became a trade union organizer.
He knew he had to be strict and unbending in his beliefs to see the change he wanted in the world.
However, the National Union of Dock Labourers did not agree with how Larkin was handling his new position. Alarmed by Larkins methods, they transfered him to Dublin, Ireland, hoping to get him out of their hair.
While in Dublin James Larkin got to work. He still believed in that laborers were being treated unfairly, looked down upon and left to fend for themselves. Wanting to organize these workers, Larkin created the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union and the Irish Labour Party shortly after. It didn’t take long for thousands of industrial workers to flock to his cause.
Once they gained enough power these groups held frequent strikes. One of which, the 1913 Dublin Lockout, lasted almost eight months and was 100,000 thousand people strong.
Larkin and his supporters eventually won out and were able to enjoy fair employment.