James Larkin, from Liverpool, England was born on January 21st, 1876 to Irish parents. At the age of seven, he began working after school, which wasn’t uncommon for poverty-stricken families. James was given a position in the firm his father worked in at the age of 14 after his death but was fired two years later.
In 1893 James had acquired an interest in socialism and became a member of the Independent Labour Party. During this time he also became a sailor and docker. Holding these positions, James experienced his first strike.
James participation in the strike got him elected to the strike committee, and even more importantly, recognized by the National Union of Dock Labourers. Before long He was a permanent figure in this union. With his reputation growing, James soon found himself in Scotland organizing a campaign against Chinese immigration. In 1907 James arrived in Belfast, Ireland to conduct the dock workers in a strike against the city’s dock employers. In 1908 Larkin headed south to organize workers in Dublin, Cork, and Waterford.
Unfortunately, his involvement in a dispute in Dublin led to his expulsion from the NUDL. After his role with the NUDL was no more, he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union.
James Larkin was prosecuted by the NUDL in 1910 for diverting union funds to pay Cork’s strike workers and was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison but was released after serving three months.
In 1913 Larkin set his aim on two major companies in Ireland, Guinness, and Dublin United Tramway Co. During his quest for recruiting workers, he met some opposition by the name of William Martin Murphy, chairman of the Dublin United Tramway Co. Murphy was so against the ITGWU, that if you were suspected of any involvement with the union you were fired. Consequently, the workers went on strike led by Larkin, and led by Murphy, the employers retaliated. This was known as the Dublin Lockout.
After the lockout, Larkin found himself In the United States where his revolution continued. Before he died on January 30th, 1947, Larkin successfully organized several more unions an coalitions that gave the working man hope.