James Larkin’s Fight for Communism and Labour Rights
Born in Liverpool, England, James Larkin is a renown Irish labor leader. James spent most of his childhood and early adult life in the slums of Liverpool. Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia and James Larkin | Biography
With little formal education, Larkin took on several jobs to contribute to his family’s income. James, a one-time docker and sailor, joined the Independent Labour Party in 1983 because of his interests in socialism.
As a foreman in the Liverpool docks, he took part in one of the strikes. He would eventually become a champion for workers as a National Union of Dock Labourers official. In 1907, the NUDL transferred him to Belfast.
While working in Belfast, James Larkin noticed the need for a labor union that adequately addressed the plight of Irish workers. At the time, most of the Irish workers were members of British-based unions.
The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union launched by Larkin, aimed at unifying all Irish skilled, industrial and unskilled workers into a single organization. James Larkin also introduced the Irish Worker and People’s Advocate, a publication that championed for fair treatment of workers.
The Irish Labour Party, formed by James Connolly and James Larkin, led most of the worker’s strikes in the early 1900s. The primary objective of the Irish Labour Party was to act as a representative of workers during the Home Rule Debate. The Dublin Lockout of 1913 is the party’s most significant strike and lasted for close to eight months.
In October 1914, Larkin moved to the USA but remained the general secretary of the ITGWU. James Larkin then ventured into freelance public speaking. While in the USA James an ardent believer in socialism had difficulties generating a stable income.
As he settled in, he became part of the Socialist Party based in New York. James focused on making the party as a communist party. However, he was arrested in 1919 and charged with criminal anarchy but pardoned in 1923.
James went back to Ireland in 1923 and reached out to union members to help end the Irish Civil war. He continued his activism for labor rights and communism before his demise in 1947.