Jim Larkin: Reaching for the Stars on Workers’ Rights

If you have ever heard of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, then you’ve probably heard of its founder Jim Larkin. For those that have not heard about Jim Larkin, they have missed a tale of a tenacious leader and motivated advocate.

Built on a foundation of socialism, Jim Larkin believed that individuals should have access to union benefits, regardless of whether they are skilled in a specific craft. He saw the inclusion of only specific types of workers as discriminatory and wanted to help found something that included both the Irish population and those of unskilled workers. He spent much of his life trying to attain that this goal.

His first union post was with the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL). The problem with this post was that the NUDL quickly noticed some of Jim Larkin’s more radical tendencies.

He was willing to do whatever it took to get the rights he believed that his workers deserved. This set up alarm bells all throughout the organization, but he was also a very valuable organizer, so they moved him to Dublin, Ireland. This proved to be a fortunate event for Jim Larkin because it was here that he was able to establish the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union.

The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union was something that Jim Larkin had been shopping around for many years. The entire point of the group was to make sure that unskilled workers could have some type of union representation, something he had held as a personal belief for many years.

After forming this group in 1907, he began to recruit. The party grew at an exorbitant rate and encompassed an innumerable amount of people. Read more: James Larkin | Ireland Calling and James Larkin | Biography

This eventually led to his confident formation of the Irish Labour Party, and instrumental component in the series of strikes that would eventually plague the Dublin community. These strikes were adequately called the Dublin lockout because many businesses ceased to operate during this time.

Jim Larkin took the opportunity to solidify the power that unions could have over businesses if they were able to organize their workforce. Jim Larkin went on to do several significant things throughout the remainder of his life.

He died an old man in Dublin, after working hard to set a good example for other workers. His time as an organization manager is not forgotten and is an immeasurable feat because of his lack of formal education.

Learn more about Jim Larkin:

http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm and http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/easterrising/profiles/po08.shtml