Historical Trade Unionist, Jim Larkin

James Larkin was born on January 21, 1876, in Liverpool, England. James Larkin did not have a formal education. At a very young age James worked several different jobs to help his family pay the bills, and later he was made the foreman of the Liverpool docks.

He believed the workers were not treated fairly, so James Larkin joined the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL) and became trade union organizer in 1905 at the age of 29. In 1903, James Larkin married his wife Elizabeth Brown; the couple would have four sons. He moved to Dublin in 1907, where he created the General Workers’ Union, which would later become the biggest union in the region. He also founded the Irish Transport the same year.

Larkin, (also known as Big Jim, coined the phrase “a fair days work for a fair days pay. The Labour Party was established by Congress in 1912. Now at the height of his success and power, his insecurity began to show, and he pushed his health to the limit with a difficult workload.

Larkin’s success story came to an abrupt stop with the Lockout of 1913 in Dublin. During the Lockout, about 100,000 workers went on strike for eight months, fighting for fair employment. After the Lockout, it was harder than ever to work with. After the lockout, Jim decided to head to the United States in October 1914.

Jim Larkin had come to America to lecture in order to raise money to be able to fight the British. He grew tired of America by 1918 and tried constantly to obtain a passport for Ireland. But before he could leave, Jim was convicted and sent to prison in 1920 for communism. In April of 1923, he was pardoned and deported to England after of an instigation by J. Edgar Hoover.

James Larkin was an active worker until the time of his death. Near the end of the year in 1946, he fell through a floor while overseeing repairs to Thomas Ashe Hall. He later died on 30 January 1947 while at the Meath Hospital.

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