Jim Larkin: The Hero of the 1913 Dublin Lockout

Jim Larkin is known for fights for the fellow working class people and his role in making Dublin Lockout a grand success. The Irish trade union leader who was born in 1876 helped significantly to shape the society in Ireland and England in the first half of the 20th century.

Links to his social activism and initiatives for the working class can be traced from his humble background and a struggling childhood. Larkin could not complete the primary schooling and started supporting the family from very young age. He did a number of manual jobs and finally joined the Liverpool Docks as a foreman.

Jim Larkin experienced the unfair conditions of the workers including the low wages and inefficient support. He committed himself to change the adverse conditions and joined NUDL and became its full-time trade union activist in 1905.

However, the union could find the militant strike methods of Larkin appalling, and they dispatched him to Dublin, two years later. Interestingly, he founded ITGWU or Irish Transport and General Workers Union in Dublin. Read more: Jim Larkin – Biography

Larkin envisioned forming a single union for all types of workers including skilled and unskilled for the benefit of everyone. He is the proponent of the famous quote “A great day’s work for a great day’s pay.”

Jim framed the political program of the union that includes legal eight hours work a day, option for work in the case of all unemployed, and pension to everyone above 60. He also demanded the nationalization of canals, universal franchise, compulsory arbitration courts, and more. Larkin also exhorted that Ireland is for Irish.

He formed a party named Irish Labor Party with the help of James Connolly in 1912. Next year, he led the protest called 1913 Dublin Lockout to fight against the limited rights for the unskilled laborers. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/easterrising/profiles/po08.shtml and http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/

Interestingly, the strike garnered the support of more than 100,000 workers, and it continued for seven months that led to the right for fair payment and employment.

During the First World War, Larkin demanded the Irish people not to involve in the war and led many anti-war demonstrations. He went to the United States in 1914 as part of a fund raising program to lead protests against the British.

Six years later, Larkin arrested for communism, criminal anarchy, and sentenced. In 1923, he was deported back to Ireland, and the next year, Larkin founded Workers’ Union of Ireland or WUI in the country. He also started collaborating with Irish Labor Party and became its member.

In the later years, Larkin became more active in the politics and contested in 1927 general election and elected from Dublin North.

He started keeping a distance from the Soviet Union and communism during the period as he felt Stalinism is not taking the ideology forward. In 1936, he contested again from Dublin and won in the Corporation and reelected again in the year 1937.

In 1941, Larkin and his fellow leaders fought against a new trade union bill introduced by the government, but the campaign went unsuccessful. He served as the Deputy of Labor Party in Dáil Éireann for the period 1943-44.