Jim Larkin: A Hated Hero

In the history of Ireland, there aren’t that many figures that are both loved and hated by so many people like Jim Larkin. The union leader and well-known socialist was born on January 21, 1967, to a hardworking but impoverished family in Liverpool, England.

Due to the level of poverty in which he was raised, Jim Larkin did not receive much formal education. From a young age, he would immediately go to work as soon as school ended for the day performing manual labor.

He was able to work his way through the ranks to become a foreman at the docks in Liverpool. This position did not make him lose his intense empathy for the poor and manual laborers in Ireland and England. Learn more about Jim Larkin: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/big-jim-larkin-hero-or-wrecker-review-when-big-jim-looked-small-1.2524094 and http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm

After joining the NUDL and joining his workers on strike against the unfair practices that the company followed, he was fired from his position as foreman. The National Union of Dock Labourers immediately offered him a position within their organization that eventually led to him becoming a trade union organizer as his full-time job.

However, the NUDL did not completely approve of how Jim Larkin conducted strikes. In one incident, he led a strike as a response to the increase in Chinese immigrants that led to many in the country losing their jobs.

This strike featured Jim Larkin and his comrades wearing costumes featuring Chinese stereotypes such as pigtails and yellowed skin. After this strike, Larkin was moved to Dublin where he proceeded to create the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union in 1907.

The ITGWU’s political programme was outlined in 1908 by Jim Larkin and his comrades. They were demanding that work hours be limited to 8 hours daily and that unemployed workers be offered compensation as the most important union goals. Among others were pensions for retirees, suffrage, and nationalization of means of transport.

After the Irish Labour Party was formed by James Connolly and Larkin a series of strikes were held such as the Dublin Lockout of 1913. This strike was held over the duration of 7 months and included an estimated 100,000 workers.

Read more: James Larkin | Biography and The Definite Biography of Big Jim Larkin – Irish Examiner

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