James Larkin

You may have heard the phrase “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.” Well, the first person to use this phrase was a trade unionist by the name James Larkin, often known as Big Jim. Mary Ann McNulty bore James Larkin in 1876. James grew up in the urban streets and went to school in Liverpool. His parents were Irish. Due to their parent’s low-income level, he got very little education.

In an effort to boost his family’s low income, Larkin worked a number of jobs when he was still a youth. This eventually led him to become a foreman in the docks. When still so young, he became devoted to socialism, and he believed that workers were being maltreated.

He, therefore, gained membership to the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL). By 1905, James had decided to dedicate his time and efforts to trade unionism.

During his time in NUDL, Larkin displayed some extreme methods that spooked the union. However, the union could not lay him off, so they opted to transfer him to Dublin. That was back in 1907. At this time, less than 10% of Irish workers were unionized. Larkin had a desire to combine all Irish workers. Learn more about Jim Larkin:

This involved those who were skilled and also the unskilled. He managed to bring them under one organization. This was achieved through the founding of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU). ITGWU quickly gained affiliation with branches of NUDL.

Larkin outlined ITGW’s legal programme; a legal eight hours’ day, work provision to all those who were not employed, and financial support to the laborers at the age of 60. This was in December 1908.

James Larkin partnered with his friend, James Connolly, and the two formed a party that came to be so powerful, the Irish Labor party. He, through the party, led a sequence of workers’ strikes. One strike that was the most momentous was the lockout of 1913 in Dublin.

So many employees, especially those of the state, went on strike for roughly eight months. Despite the major losses incurred in businesses because of the strike’s duration, the workers’ plea for unbiased employment was granted.

In 1912, he moved to the US where he went on with his activism. His radical ways led him to face charges for which he was sent back to Ireland. By 1924, he was already continuing with his work until he passed on, in January 1947. ITGW exists today as (SIPTU) Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union.

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