How Jim Larkin Advocated For Worker Rights
Jim Larkin was a man of Irish descent who grew up in a hardscrabble neighborhood of Liverpool in the late 1800s. He was put to work at a young age to support the family and eventually he started working on the docks loading and unloading ships. From a young age he was a socialist who wanted far more rights for workers. To this end he joined the dockers union and eventually became a union trade organizer.
As Jim Larkin preferred to use militant methods in the strikes he organized his higher-ups at this trade union decided he was more trouble than he was worth. In 1907 he was sent to go work in Dublin instead of Liverpool. Once there he established his own union that accepted all workers, whether unskilled or skilled.
Beginning in 1912 he started leading strikes in a number of Dublin industries. The largest of these was the Dublin Lockout which took place in 1913. Workers agitated for rights across the city and they refused to work for almost seven months. The result of this strike by over 100,000 workers was that they were given more rights, such a the right of fair employment.
One key tenet that Jim Larkin lived by was the strike-breakers were to be treated fairly. He didn’t allow any violence towards them to be taken by his union members. The main reason for this was that he didn’t want to destroy the companies that were being struck against as if they went under jobs would disappear, not helping anybody.
From 1914 to 1920, Jim Larkin was in the United States. He went on a lecture tour where he advocated for the rights of workers. Six years after arriving in the US he was arrested and convicted of two counts. One count was that he was a communist and the other was for criminal anarchy. He served a few years in prison and was then released and put on a boat back to Ireland.
Jim Larkin continued to fight for workers rights once back in Dublin. He eventually died on January 30, 1947.