How Jim Larkin Was One Of The Earliest Voices For Worker Rights

Born on 1-21-1876 in one of the seedier parts of Liverpool England, Jim Larkin was given very little education. Instead, he was put to work early in order to support his family and himself. He started out doing manual jobs, including on the docks. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm and http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/books/the-definitive-biography-of-big-jim-larkin-372254.html

Eventually, he worked his way up to foreman. His experiences led to him being a dedicated socialist who fought for the rights of workers and public ownership of infrastructure. He became a member of the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL). In 1905 he stopped doing manual labor and instead worked as a trade union organizer.

The tactics that Jim Larkin took against employers was militant in nature. The heads of the NUDL decided they didn’t like this and so he was sent to Dublin, Ireland. Once he established himself there he founded an Irish union called Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU). He wanted to unite all workers in Ireland whether they were skilled or unskilled.

What Jim Larkin fought for was revolutionary at the time. He wanted the workday limited to eight hours, for example, as well as people who were unemployed being guaranteed a job. Additionally, he wanted all workers to have a pension available to them at age 60 in addition to other rights for workers.

When World War 1 broke out Jim Larkin had his union workers hold anti-war demonstrations across Dublin. He wanted Ireland to stay out of the war and he wanted Irish soldiers to only fight for the cause of Ireland. In order to support this he went on a speaking tour in the United States with the intent to raise money in order to fight the British.

While on tour he was arrested and convicted of being a communist and causing criminal anarchy. After three years of being in jail he was released and deported back to Ireland.

Jim Larkin continued to fight on behalf of Irish workers until his death on 1-30-1947. He was in his union hall which was being remodeled when he fell through the floor. His injuries led to his death about three weeks later.

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