Folk hero and activist Jim Larkin was an Irish labor organizer who founded the General Worker’s Union. Larkin, who grew up in the slums of Liverpool, England, had to work a variety of jobs during his youth to take care of his family.
While Larkin rose to the ranks of dock foreman, he was still concerned about the unfair treatment of workers. A committed socialist, Larkin became a trade union organizer in 1905.
After joining the National Union of Dock Laborers, he transferred to Dublin. In 1907, he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, which was created to combine all workers into one organization. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/jim-larkin-released-from-prison and http://ireland-calling.com/james-larkin/
Larkin also traveled to Scotland to organize labor in Glasgow and Preston. He was also at the forefront of protesting against Chinese immigration, believing it would undercut pay for Irishmen.
Larkin successfully organized Belfast dock workers and organized a strike when employers failed to meed pay demands.
Over 100,000 men went on strike for 8 months until their demands were met. In 1911,
Larkin established the Irish Worker and People’s Advocate newspaper. The newspaper went on for four years, denouncing Larkin’s political enemies and employers who mistreated workers. The paper was shut down by authorities.
He also organized one of the largest anti-war protests at the onset of WWI.
Larkin also helped orchestrate the Dublin Lockout. It was a major dispute between workers and employers. It was the most significant dispute dealing with the right for workers to unionize.
The dispute lasted about five months. Both sides were damaged during strike; many business when bankrupts and starving workers ended up joining Army and fighting in WWI.
Larkin continued with his labor activities for many years. He served as Labor Party Deputy from 1941-1944. He died in his sleep in 1947.
A memorial of Larkin stands in Belfast.