James Larkin Labour Organizer

James Larkin an Irish worker became a labourer organizer and activist. He lived from 1847 to 1947. During this time, he was the founder of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union in 1907. He grew up in the very poor sector of England with little education. During his childhood he worked to supplement the family income.


He was at one time a foreman at the Liverpool docks. When he was five, his parents sent him to live with his grandparents. When he returned, he worked as a dock labourer. Dedicated to workers rights he believed the workers were treated unfairly. That is why he joined the National Union of Dock Labourers.

In 1905, James Larkin became a full time trade union organizer. His strike methods rattled the NUDL and he was transferred to Dublin where he organized the union.

The organization combined all skilled and unskilled workers into one union. When he later formed the Irish Labourer Party he organized a series of strikes.

In 1913 the Dublin Lockout had over 100,000 workers on strike for over eight months. This won workers the right to fair employment practices. During World War I he staged anti-war demonstrations. He traveled to US to raise money to fight the British.

Convicted of criminal acts and communism he was jailed and pardoned eventually He was deported to Ireland. There he organized the Workers Union of Ireland and won recognition from the Communist International in 1924.

James did not drink or smoke and became involved in the temperance movement. For a period of time he took on a one man crusade against drinking among the poor dock workers. He never swore or used foul language. He eventually became a Christian Socialist.

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James Larkin


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