Jim Larkin’s Struggles and Efforts as a Trade Unionist

Everything that people are enjoying today is as a result of someone’s efforts. Nothing comes easy. Before any benefits are realized, there are some long negotiations that must take place. The negotiations may not be peaceful. It takes a real hero, a courageous person to stand firm and fight for what they believe in.

James Larkin, who is now referred as big Jim, stood firm and fought not for his own interests but for the people of Ireland. He stood firm for all employees who, at the time, were overworked and underpaid.

Jim was a hard working young man who did various manual jobs before landing a job at the Docks in Scotland. It is while working there that he decided to join the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL). While working at NUDL, he represented the needs of all dock workers.

After a short period, Jim became an organizer for the union. He was always a dedicated socialist. Due to his military strike approach, the NUDL sent him to Dublin by 1907. On landing there, he did not waste any time. He formed the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU). Through this union, as the leader, he redefined working terms for all workers: skilled and unskilled. Read more: Jim Larkin – Biography and The Definite Biography of Big Jim Larkin

He was a firm believer of fair pay. Jim Larkin pushed for all employees to be given pensions upon retirement at the age of 60 and equal right to use the train and other means of public transportation for all workers.

Although Jim is remembered as an iconic figure, he suffered a fair deal of struggles. He went to America hoping to continue his activism, but he was jailed and deported in 1923. His charges were later dropped and his name cleared. Shortly after coming back from the US, Jim and his wife Elizabeth, with whom they had four sons, separated. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm

His life became a living hell as he had no place at home or in the Union he founded (ITGWU). He became a bitter man and an irrational person. At some point, Jim was forced to live with his sister Delia and her husband.

Luckily for Jim, ITGWU collapsed, paving way for the Workers Union of Ireland (WUI), a labor movement that was formed by Peter, who was his brother, and his son young Jim. Larkin worked at WUI until his old age. He fought for the rights of workers to the point of almost losing everything. Larkin died in 1947, but his efforts have lived to be celebrated.

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