Jim (otherwise known as James) Larkin was a famous activist and labor organizer who formed the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. He was born on January 21st, 1876, in Liverpool, England, and died on January 30th, 1947, in Dublin, Ireland. Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia and Jim Larkin | Biography
Larkin was a socialist, specifically a Marxist. He coined the popular phrase “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay”. After growing up in the slums of Liverpool, Larkin saw the horrible consequences poverty could have on people and the way that poverty kept people from accessing proper education, and the unfair ways that bosses treated their workers.
Larkin himself did not have much education, due to coming from a poor family. Larkin worked as a manual laborer and a foreman at the Liverpool docks prior to becoming a trade union organizer, which eventually became his full-time job in 1905, when he joined the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL).
Larkin was very militant in his striking methods, which eventually displeased the NUDL, causing him to be transferred to Dublin, Ireland in 1907. There, he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU), for both skilled and unskilled Irish workers. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/easterrising/profiles/po08.shtml and http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/
Upon the founding of this union, less than 10 percent of Irish workers were unionized, with most of the unionized workers being unionized in British unions.
The political program of the ITGWU was fairly simple – limitation of the workday to eight hours, pensions for senior citizens, security for unemployed workers, compulsory arbitration courts, the ability of all adults to vote and nationalization of Irish transport methods. In modern-day society, these are all things we take for granted, but they would not have been possible without Jim Larkin.
Larkin also contributed to anti-war efforts, staging protests during World War One. In 1920, while in the United States, he was convicted of communism and criminal anarchy, but was pardoned three years later and sent back to Ireland.
Once in Ireland, he organized the Workers’ Union of Ireland. In 1924, he was officially recognized by Communist International.
Larkin was also the founder of the Irish Labour Party, along with James Connolly in 1912.