James Larkin is an historical figure behind the common phrase, ‘a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’. He was passionate about employees’ welfare. James was born to Irish parents on January 1876 in Liverpool, England. Due to his humble background, he didn’t manage to complete his studies.
This made him to engage in several manual jobs at a very tender age. He later landed to a job at the Liverpool docks as a foreman in 1903. In 1905, he joined the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL) and as a result of his efforts and passion in fighting for employment rights, Jim Larkin was promoted to be the organizer.
However, due to his approaches to industrial action, NUDL posted him to Dublin in 1907. With an aim to have one union working for the welfare of all Irish industrial workers both skilled and unskilled, Larkin founded the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU).
ITGWU had several demands including eight hours work day, 60 years old workers to be given pension, provision of work to the unemployed, adult suffrage, and nationalization of means transport among many others.
In 1912, James Larkin and James Connolly co-founded the Irish Labour Party.This organization led several peaceful industrial protests including the 1913 Dublin Lockout which fought for the rights of unskilled workers in Dublin.
This later resulted to the acquisition of the right to fair employment. Larkin’s work attracted support from several celebrities including Constance Markievicz, Patrick Pearse and William Butler Yeats.
James Larkin’s movements were always against violence. During the eruption of the First World War, he conducted a huge anti-war demonstration to persuade all Irishmen to stay away from the war.
In 1914, James travelled to the US to attend a lecture tour and obtain some funds. While in US, he joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Socialist Party of America. He later founded the James Connolly Socialist Club in New York to commemorate his friend.
In 1924, James moved back to Ireland and established the Workers’ Union of Ireland (WUID). In 1945, he joined the Irish Labour Party. It is no doubt that Jim Larkin spent his life fighting for the rights and benefits of workers. His efforts will always be recognized.