Jim Larkin was a famous Irish trade union leader, orator, activist and socialist who was born in 1876 in Liverpool, England. Jim Larkin was best known for helping form the political Irish Labour Party and the establishment of his Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, ITGWU, during the early 1900’s. In his early years, Larkin helped his working-class family out financially throughout his whole childhood. They lived in a very poor area in Liverpool and he would have to leave school during the afternoons to work at various jobs. His early teenage years were extremely challenging after his father had suddenly died. He was dismissed as an apprentice at his father’s firm and spent a long period of being jobless.
Jim Larkin became a sailor and docker at the local docks and became a part of the Independent Labour Party, a left-wing British political party, in 1893. He became a foreman in 1903 and married Elizabeth Brown, who later became the mother of his four sons. During a time of unrest, many of the dockers wanted better wages and went on strike. Larkin joined in and subsequently lost his job as a dock foreman. An English trade union called the National Union Dock of Labourers, had seen Larkin as a valuable figure after the strike and offered him a position as a trade union organizer in 1905. The NUDL sent him off to a few locations in Scotland and he successfully organized workers for his first duties as an organizer.
In 1907, Larkin was sent to unionize workers in Ireland, he also successfully organized strikes that ultimately helped the local dockers received better wages. Soon, the NUDL had took notice of Larkin’s overzealous strike behavior and stripped him of his membership. By 1908, he had formed his own union called the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, which is now known as the Service Industrial Professional and Technical Union to this day. Larkin’s sole mission was to unionize Ireland’s entire workforce, where every type of union worker could receive fair wages. He moved to Dublin and gained hundreds of members for the ITGWU. In 1913, a few employers had locked out their workers who were affiliated with the ITGWU. The workers retaliated and went on a series of boycotts and strikes for seven harsh months. This was later called the “1913 Dublin Lock-Out.”