James (Jim) Larkin was a trade unionist and labor organizer who live from January 21, 1876, until January 30, 1947. Although he is Irish he was born and raised in Liverpool, England. His family lived in the poorest section of that city and he had no access to getting an education.
Instead, he started doing a number of manual jobs when he was little and eventually got a job working on the docks. In his 20s he joined the National Union of Dock Labourers and in 1905 he stopped working a manual labor job and instead became a labor organizer at his trade union.
By most accounts, James Larkin wasn’t the easiest guy to get along with. One way that he proved to be an annoyance to his trade union leadership was that he engaged in militant strike methods. As a result in 1907 he was moved to Dublin.
There he established the Irish Transport and General Worker’s Union which he wanted everyone to join regardless of whether they worked manual or skilled jobs. His goal was to get everyone employment rights such as an eight-hour workday, pensions, jobs for unemployed people, and adult suffrage among other rights. Read more: James Larkin | Wikipedia and The Definite Biography of Big Jim Larkin – Irish Examiner
In 1912 he co-founded another union, the Irish Labour Party. At this union he led multiple strikes against employers. The biggest of these was the Dublin Lockout which took place the very next year. Over 100,000 workers went on strike and it lasted for over a half year. James Larkin was successful with this as he won the workers the right to fair employment.
In 1914 he moved to the United States and didn’t return to Ireland until 1923. He started out touring and raising money to keep Ireland out of the Great War but ended up getting arrested. He was charged and convicted for being a communist and for engaging in criminal anarchy.
After receiving a pardon he was put on a boat and sent back to Ireland. He continued to agitate for worker rights up through his death which was the result of having fallen through the floor of a union that was being renovated.