Category Archives: Leaders

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

Jim Larkin’s History

James Larkin’s first home was a slum in England. He studied in Liverpool for a while and started working from middays. His school schedule had to change because of what his family was going through back at home. When Jim was seven years old, he was so compassionate about the people who were close to him. One would imagine that he vowed to never let them down, because of the sacrifices he made for them.

 

His age soon turned 14, and with the fast moving, times came sorrow. His father was no more. James Larkin became many things including a docker and sailor, with an aim to raise funds for his good upbringing and also his family.

 

The job of sailing did not earn him much, so he quit and became a docker for the better part of his youth, until his recruitment to the most envied organization, the National Union of Dock Labourers. NUDL served both him and the community well, as it was dedicated to voicing the needs of workers of the Liverpool Docks and also other parts of England and Ireland.

 

Due to disagreements on leadership and Larkin’s rough methods in carrying out the union’s activities, he was asked to leave permanently. He was later arraigned in court for claims of embezzlement of union funds, a claim that Larkin denied. He was jailed for a few months before he was pardoned.

 

James Larkin then saw the properness of having an organization for uniting Irishmen, so ITGWU was started. He held the envied position of the Secretary-General, a post that would later come to be of much importance to him.

 

The Irish Labour Party soon came into formation with both Larkin and James Connolly on its leadership. The two friends led the Dublin Lockout which marked in the calendar of history, the greatest strike of 1913.

 

James Larkin then sought to fund against British men due to the war that had started. His US visit led to his subsequent arrest in 1920 and deportation in 1923. Not being weak hearted, he continued with union activities until he bid life bye in 1947.