James Larkin was born in 1876 in Liverpool, England. He was of Irish descent. His parents were James Larkin and Mary Ann McNulty. Larkin grew up in the slums of England, and he worked in the evenings in order to support his family. He received little formal educaiton.
At the age of 14, Larkin became fatherless. Thus, he had to find full-time employment. During this period, he held several jobs.
He, for instance, worked at one of his father’s former apprentice, but he was laid off from the job within three years. Eventually, Larkin found a stable job in the docks of Liverpool. He also worked as a sailor.
Larkin, like his fellow workers, was exploited by his employers. The working conditions were bad and the pay was low. During this period, there was a strike in the Liverpool docks.
Jim Larkin was one of the few workers to participate. Because of his passion, courage and energy, he was recruited by the National Union of Dock Labourers. He really impressed the union.
Larkin lost his job as a result of his protest. However, in 1906, he gained a full-time position in the union. The National Union of Dock Labourers saw in larkin a lot of potential. Thus, the union sent Larkin to Scotland. There, he unionized workers in Preston and Glasgow. Scotland, as a result, had a unionized labor force for the first time.
In 1907, Larkin organized Belfast’s city dock workers for the NUDL. It was not easy to accomplish,for employers refused to comply. So he organized a strike. Larkin was able to motivate people from all walks of life. He, for instance, persuaded the Royal Irish Constabulary. He even united both Protestant and Catholic workers.
It is important to note that Larkin also cared about unskilled workers. This is a reason why he participated in the Dublin lock-out and why he targeted Guinness and the Dublin United Tramway Company.
These two only offered some benefits for highly-skilled workers. He believed that every worker in the world deserved adequate pay and treatment. Larkin is remembered in Ireland as a hero.
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