When Jim Larkin joined Liverpool dockworkers in his quest to feed his family, little did he know that it was the stepping-stone of becoming a workers’ rights crusader. Having born and raised in Liverpool slums in England, Jim had to do manual jobs, and that is how he ended in the docks.
The life in the slum could not let him get a proper education, but that did not deter him from becoming a foreman standing for his rights. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and James Larkin | Wikipedia
It is under those criteria that after joining the National Union of Dock Laborers, he became an active member in the union. He would organize strikes, which were aimed at raising the workers’ grievances.
Not everyone was happy with that kind of approach leading to his transfer to Dublin, Ireland. His militant ways of leading other workers caused alarm in the union.
In Dublin, James Larkin formed the Ireland Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) which was the umbrella organization to all other workers’ unions. The union had a political programme, which included nationalization to all transport systems, the right to participate in voting for all workers and a pension program for all workers at the age of 60. Provision of employment to the jobless, legal eight hours’ day and compulsory Arbitration Courts were also included in the union’s program.
This programme was outlined in December 1908. Jim Larkin joined hand with James Connolly to form Ireland Labor Union a more vibrant movement. The union staged many peaceful strikes, but the Dublin Lockout was the most effective. Over 100,000 workers participated by laying down their tools for close to eight months. The strike culminated in the workers’ success to secure their rights.
During the onset of First World War, Jim organized anti-war demonstrations. Just as the way he organized peaceful strikes and boycotts to lay workers’ grievances, Larkin was against Ireland’s participation in the war. He was on the opinion that Ireland would be adversely affected by the war. He advised people to “fight for Ireland and no other land.”
James went American not only to lecture but also to look for funding to confront the British. While in America, Larkin was a member of Industrial Workers of the world and Social-Political Party of America.