Jim Larkin English Folk Hero

Jim Larkin was born in Liverpool, England in 1876. He was most well known for founding the Irish Transport and the General Workers Union– which became the regions largest union before it fell apart after the Dublin Lockout.

Before founding the ITGWU, Larkin worked many jobs in his youth to help supplement his income and help take care of his wife and four sons. In 1905 he became a foreman at the Liverpool docks. While working there he found workers were not treated fairly, so he joined the National Union of Dock Laborers where he became a union organizer.

In 1907, Larkin was transferred to Dublin due to his militant strike methods which alarmed the NUDL. This is when he became the founder of ITGWU. Ultimately, the goal of the union was to put together all Irish industrial workers together in a single organization.

A few years later, Larkin formed the Irish Labor Party. He was responsible for leading a series of strikes, most famously the Dublin Lockout in 1913. This strike consisted of over 100,000 workers who went on strike for 8 months that led to the winning of the right to fair employment.

Larkin’s activist deeds did not end there. While in Dublin he staged large anti war demonstrates during the peak of World War 1. In 1914 Larkin spen time in the United States to raise funds to fight the British, in 1920 he was convicted of criminal anarchy and communism. His wife, Elizabeth who had moved in 1915 with her two youngest boys to Chicago to be with him, was tired of the life Larkin had made for them.

They moved back to Dublin in 1916 and in 1922 she refused to support a campaign to get him out of jail. Three years later, he was pardoned and deported back to Ireland. While back in Ireland he organized the workers union of Ireland and in 1924 he secured the recognition from Communist International.

Larkin can be remembered as the man who revolutionized trade unionism by introducing methods of struggle which made possible the unionization of unskilled worker.