James Larkin refers to a trade unionist of days gone by referred to as Big Jim. James Larkin is famous for having quoted a common expression; ‘A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’.
He was born back in the year 1876 in the slums of Liverpool to his Irish parents. James received little formal education. As he was growing up, James did a number of manual jobs that included being a foreman at Liverpool docks area.
Mr. Larkin was fully committed to seeing workers get their fair remuneration as well as work in fairer conditions. The socialist Jim Larkin showed his commitment towards fighting for workers rights by joining the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL). In 1905, Mr. Larkin became a trade union organizer on a full-time basis.
Militant Strike Methods
While at NUDL, the strike methods that Jim Larkin employed were not acceptable by all and this lead to his transfer to Dublin. While at Dublin, Jim Larkin founded a new organization referred to as the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU).
His agenda was to have all industrial workers of Irish origin regardless of whether they were skilled or unskilled to be part of one major union that would fight for their welfare.
ITGWU’s Political Programme
In the month of December 1908, Jim Larkin outlined ITGWU’s political programme. The programme proposed for a work day to be legally eight hours, the provision of work to all the unemployed persons as well as the introduction of pensions for workers above the age of 60.
He also sought for adult suffrage, mandatory arbitration courts, nationalization of railways, canals and all other transport means. He desired for the land of Ireland to be preserved for the people who originated from Ireland.
Irish Labour Party
In 1912, Jim Larkin together with James Connolly founded the Irish Labour Party and organized a number of strikes. The most outstanding strike of all was the Dublin Lockout in 1913.
The unskilled workers present in Dublin had very limited rights. This caused over 100,000 workers to participate in a strike action that lasted for more than seven months. In the end, the long strike ended up getting the right to fair employment to the workers.
Constance Markievicz stated that he had been moved a great deal by the speech that Larkin delivered in 1913 when the industrial dispute persisted. He revealed that his speech proved that he was not just a man but a huge primeval force.
Larkin’s Strike Methods
Jim Larkin favored sympathetic strikes as well as the boycott of certain goods as opposed to violence. He never at any time resorted to violence against the people breaking his strike.
He had come to a realization that if he used violence then it would be a tall order building a massive trade union through destroying the very firms that his members worked. Jim Larkin faced opposition from the Irish press but got support from Constance Markievicz, William Butler Yeats and Patrick Pearse.
When the First World War broke out, Larkin lead huge anti-war demonstrations around Dublin urging Irishmen not to get involved in the war especially for another land apart from Ireland.
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