How Jim Larkin Laid the Ground Rules for Modern-day Trade Unions

As a socialist and unionist frequently quoted saying that fair work deserves fair pay, Jim Larkin laid a foundation for modern-day trade unions.

Larkin juggled between different manual jobs since he lacked formal education and was from a low-income family. His breakthrough was in 1905 when he resumed the role of a trade union organizer working on a full-time basis for the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL).

At NUDL, Jim Larkin orchestrated a series of strikes that gained critical acclaim. His bosses did not like the strikes. In 1907, they transferred him to Dublin. During his residency in Dublin, Larkin’s key concern was to form a welfare group that represents the interests of both skilled and unskilled Irish workers. To fulfill this wish, he came up with a welfare group known as the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU).

The Irish Transport and General Workers Union and the Irish Labour Party

Jim Larkin established a political programme to cater for the members of ITGWU. The programme stated that workers who reach the age of 60 years should receive a pension. It also emphasized on the provision of work to unemployed individuals and eight-hour daily working schedule. Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia and James Larkin | Biography

Larkin worked with James Connolly to bring the Irish Labour Party into reality. Through the party, Larkin orchestrated a number of strikes. One of the notable strikes orchestrated by him was the 1913 Dublin Lockout that advocated for the rights of manual laborers.

Dublin Lockout proved to be a success after 100,000 laborers, who matched in the streets for seven months, were granted the right to fair employment.

Larkin in the US

Jim Larkin traveled to the United States back in 1914 with a goal of raising finances to fight British power. He gained membership in the Socialist Party of America as well as the Workers of the World, which are world renowned trade unions.

The Easter Rising, which claimed the life of Larkin’s friend (James Connolly), took place in Ireland 1916 while Larkin was in the US. Two years later, he set up the James Connolly Socialist Club in memory of his friend in New York. Before his death in 1947, Larkin was deported to his country and founded the Workers’ Union of Ireland.

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