Ireland’s trade union leader and activist, Jim Larkin, had fought for years to create fair pay and better conditions for all union workers, no matter if they were skilled or unskilled laborers. He longed for all of Ireland’s industrial workers to belong to one union only.
His leadership and willpower has helped to bring awareness towards the plea for workers’ rights during the 1900’s. Jim Larkin was born on January 21, 1876, to parent that emigrated from Ireland to reside in Liverpool, England. He was the second oldest son in his family and his childhood was spent in utter poverty.
From an early age, Larkin would have to find manual work from various sources to help supplement his family’s income. In his twenties, he found work at the local docks as a docker and was promoted to a dock foreman in 1903. 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
His very first strike campaign was alongside his fellow Liverpool dockers in 1905. Only a few foremen participated in the strike and Larkin was relieved of his foreman duties afterwards.
He became a member of the National Union of Dock Labourers, or NUDL, when the union became impressed with Larkin’s spirit at the strike. They assigned him as a temporary strike organizer until late 1905, when he had received a permanent status within the NUDL.
After many strike campaigns and recruitment were conducted in places like Glasgow, Preston and Dublin, the NUDL started to notice that Larkin’s strike methods were becoming almost ‘militant’. He was expurgated from the NUDL and he quickly moved to Dublin, Ireland, and had formed the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, ITGWU, in 1907.
Jim Larkin and his friend James Connolly and founded the Irish Labour Party in 1912. Under his leadership, Connolly would help lead a series of strikes and boycotts across Ireland. One of their most well-known was the ‘Dublin Lock Out’ that took place in 1913. Some of Dublin’s largest industrial labor companies would lock out their employees that were affiliated with the ITGWU.
They didn’t like the idea of Larkin wanting to unionize their workforce as a whole, so they devised a pledge for their employees to sign stating that they must leave the ITGWU or be locked out from employment. The strike went on for almost seven straight months and over 100,000 workers, employers and their families were severely affected by it.