Jim Larkin

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Posted by omeditors | Posted in Ireland | Posted on 20-08-2018

Born in Liverpool, England, on Jan. 21, 1876, Jim “Big Jim” Larkin became a prominent figure during the modern industrial movement in Ireland. His parents had emigrated to England from Ireland before he born. He was the second eldest son in his working-class family and they all had lived in a very poor section of Liverpool. For most of his youth, Jim Larkin had to find work at various odd jobs to help support his family. Learn more about Jim Larkin:  http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/ and http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm

During that time, child labour was a normalcy for working-class families throughout England, Scotland and the Repuclic of Ireland. In 1903, Larkin became a dock foreman after years of working as a docker and sailor in Liverpool. He joined his first union, the National Union of Dock Labourers in 1905.

After moving to Dublin, Ireland in 1908, Jim Larkin established the popular weekly newspaper entitled, the Irish Worker and People’s Advocate, and founded the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, ITGWU. In his late teens, he became very interested in socialism and joined the Independent Labour Party, a left-wing English political party established in 1893.

The Irish Worker was an alternative pro-labour paper that challenged the capitalist-owned print operations, as well as many disreputable industrial employers in Ireland. He was an advocate of unionism and desired for all of Ireland’s skilled and unskilled industrial workers to gain fairer wages and employment.

In 1912, Jim Larkin formed the Irish Labour Party along with his friends, James Connolly and William X. O’Brien. His career as a trade union leader was in full effect. More and more workers were joining the ITGWU and participating in sympathetic strikes and fighting for workers’ rights more than ever before.

Two of Dublin’s largest industrial employers feared what Larkin was fighting for. In 1913, the ITWGU workers were locked out of employment unless they remove themselves from the union. Read more: The Definite Biography of Big Jim Larkin – Irish Examiner and James Larkin | Wikipedia

This led to the notorious seven-month-long “1913 Dublin Lockout.” Over 100,000 workers boycotted commercial businesses and went on strike against 300 employers. Many shops had to declare bankruptcy, and family members of both the employers and workers were deeply affected.