James Larkin founded the Irish Transport on and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU), and was an Irish labor leader. He was born in Liverpool on 21 January 1876.
He had little formal education and to support his family, he worked in many jobs and became a Liverpool docks’ foreman. Believing that workers received unfair treatment, James joined the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL), and in 1905, he became a trade union organizer, full-time.
In 1907, James was transferred to Dublin when the militant strike techniques alarmed the union. While in Dublin, he formed the ITGWU whose objective was to combine skilled and unskilled Irish Industrial workers into a single organization.
James later established the Irish Labour Party. He led several strikes among which is the 1913 Dublin Lockout in which over 100,000 industrial workers went on a strike that lasted for almost eight months.
This major strike resulted in the workers obtaining the right to fair employment. The speech that Larkin gave during the 1913 industrial dispute moved Constance Markiewicz, and she confessed she had never witnessed such a vast primeval force.
James Larkin never used violence his strikes aware that if he did so, the firms in which his members worked would be destroyed, and he would never achieve his goal of having a mass trade union. Instead, Larkin used boycotting goods and other sympathetic methods.
Though the Irish press opposed his strikes, James had man supporters including William Butler Yates whose poem, “September 1913” many assume to be a Dublin lockout commentary. When the First World War broke, James, through massive anti-war demonstrations, called on Irishmen to not be involved in the war.
James Larkin went to the U.S. in 1914 for a lecture tour and to fundraise to fight the British. While there, James joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Socialist Party of America. In 1916, the Easter Rising occurred in Ireland, killing James Connolly, his friend.
James formed the James Connolly Socialist Club on 17 March 1918. The club, in New York, became the center of left-wing events. In 1920, James Larkin got convicted of communism and criminal anarchy, but three years later, he was pardoned and deported to Ireland. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/jim-larkin-released-from-prison and http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/easterrising/profiles/po08.shtml
In 1924, James organized and established the Workers Union of Ireland (WUI) after securing its recognition from Communist International. Until James’ death on 30 January 1947, he worked tirelessly for workers’ benefits.