Jim Larkin, father of the Irish labor movement, was born in Liverpool, England in 1876. In the late 19th Century, Larkin became the most prominent spokesperson for worker’s rights in all of Great Britain. A devout communist, Larkin saw first hand how workers were being taken advantage of. He spent a lifetime devoting himself to helping the common working man and woman. Read more: Jim Larkin | Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia
Not long after Larkin became a dock foreman, he joined the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL). This made him unpopular in the business community and he soon lost his job. But Larkin was determined to make a change. He joined the Independent Labor Party and traveled to Scotland to help unionize businesses in the city of Cork, Glasgow and Waterford.
Along with his success, he had some difficult moments. His falling out with NUDL secretary James Sexton resulted in his expulsion from the organization. When he traveled to Ireland, he successfully helped end a docker’s strike. He also helped bring together Protestant and Catholic workers for the good of all involved.
In 1908, Jim Larkin founded the Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union. He also established the pro-labor newspaper The Irish Worker’s and People’s Advocate. In the 1913 Dublin Walkout, Larkin was able to provide help on a limited basis. However, the business owners, led by industrialist William Martin Murphy, proved to be more formidable than once believed.
The walkout ended after 8 months with workers relenting and signing non-union agreements. Many were fired and never able to regain their jobs once it was discovered they were involved in union activity.
Larkin moved to the U.S. in 1914 to help with union activities in New York. He was successful in helping a number of workers in walkouts and organizing unions. After returning to to Ireland several years later, he successfully ran for office and continued to fight for the rights of workers.
Jim Larkin died in 1947. A statue of him stands on O’Connell Street in Dublin.