James Larkin: The Legend in Trade Unions

James Larkin was born in Liverpool, England in the year 1876. He was not privileged to get a formal education. He did odd jobs to earn a decent living. Larkin later relocated to England where he became a renowned trade unionist. His activities at the Liverpool docks were in an attempt to make ends meet for his family. It was there that his socialism values led him to join the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL).

In Dublin, 1905, Larkin established a workers’ union, the Irish Transport, and General Workers’ Union that he led diligently. The union became a force to reckon with in the country as it was vibrant and spearheaded actions to cater to the interests of workers and to unite Irish Laborers.

He fought for fair treatment of employers and better compensation for the work they do. This happened in 1913 during the infamous Dublin Lockout that saw a strike for eight consecutive months by 100000 laborers.

During World War I, James Larkin led a fundraiser in the United States to finance anti-war demonstrations and campaigns in Dublin. Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia and James Larkin | Biography

He went to give a lecture in the States in 1914, but while there he also sought ways of getting the much-needed finances for fighting the British. HE became part of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Socialist Party of America.

This resonated his firm belief in the importance of having international labor. His colleague, James Connolly passed on in 1916, during the Easter Rising that occurred in Ireland. James honored Connolly by establishing the James Connoly club based in New York.

Unfortunately, Larkin was detained for three years and then released to Ireland where he resumed his passion for leading trade unions. He founded the Workers Union of Ireland (WUI) in 1924. His unions received a global recognition in 1924, from the Communist International.

Larkin always led by example to people under him. He needed finances, and hence he started writing for a fast moving paper, the Irish Worker. He saw to it that the union had a point of reference and therefore headquarters for ITGWU was set at Liberty Hall.

James Larkin died in January 1947 and left an impressive legacy. He will be remembered for his works in uniting laborers globally.

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