Jim “Big Jim” Larkin is a famous trade union leader, activist and orator who helped initiate the modern labor movement in Ireland. Jim Larkin was born in Liverpool, England, on January 21, 1876, to parents who were Irish natives. He was the second oldest son in his family and they all lived in a very poverty-stricken neighborhood in Liverpool. He did various manual labor work throughout his entire youth until he found work at the local docks. During this time, he had joined the Independent Labour Party of England, after growing an interest in socialism. He worked as a dock foreman nearly a decade later and married his fiancé in 1903.
In 1906, Jim Larkin became a bona fide member of the National Union of Dock Labourers, NUDL and served as their union organizer. He was sent to several locations in Scotland and Ireland to help successfully organize local dockers. Larkin was sent to Dublin, Ireland, after the NUDL ousted him for his aggressive strike methods and behavior in 1907. This expulsion didn’t slow Larkin down and he soon had founded the Irish Transport & General Workers’ Union, ITGWU, in 1908 and made his residency in Dublin. Larkin and his friend James Connolly had founded the Irish Labour Party in 1912. Together, they formed strikes and aimed to unionize the entire industrial workforce in Ireland.
Jim Larkin had formed a solid union and accumulated thousands of skilled and unskilled Irish industrial workers. Several prominent industrial companies in Dublin didn’t care for the idea of Larkin unionizing their workers and vowed to locked out any workers that were members of the ITGWU. The committed union workers went on a series of strikes and boycotts that affected over 100,000 workers, families and employers. This event was later called the “Dublin Lockout of 1913” and thousands of workers went on strike against 300 employers. The workers had won their rights to fair pay and employment after seven months of striking.