James Larkin was a known activist and labor organizer based in Ireland. He is famously known for his role in founding the globally recognized Irish Transport & General Workers Union. James was born in Liverpool in the year 1876.
As a child raised from a humble family, James encountered various challenges that saw him acquire little to no formal education. As a way of supplementing his family income and improving their lifestyle, James had to work as a social worker and as a foreman at one of Liverpool’s docking stations. This would eventually mark his desire to fight for the well-being and better payment for civil workers.
The year 1905 marked the beginning of his long journey as an activist fighting for the rights of workers. It was during this year that he became a full-time union organizer and activist by joining the National Union of Dock Labourers party. In the year 1907, the NUDL party transferred him to Dublin after it became apparent that his strike methods were becoming too frequent and alarming.
In Dublin, he formed his own union the Irish Transport & General Workers Union that brought together all workers who worked in industries regardless of whether they were skilled or unskilled.
The launch of the ITGWU party was not the beginning nor the end of Jim’s endeavors. The notion behind this can be attributed to the fact that he went ahead to form and launch the Irish Labour Party which was entirely responsible for starting the Dublin Lockout in 1913 where an estimated 100,000 industrial workers actively took part in the industrial strike that took more than eight months.
In 1914, the organization responsible for initiating the Dublin Lockout fell apart, and James moved to the United States to pursue a career as a globetrotter, freelancer, and source for funds to launch another labor party. While staying in the USA, James was charged with communism and criminal anarchy and eventually got convicted in the year 1920.
The charges stemmed from his active contribution in the Socialist Party where he was accused of turning the party based in New York into a communist party. He was however pardoned after three years and deported back to England where he secured an active recognition from the Communist International by organizing and directing the Workers Union of Ireland party.
After his deportation, James did not bound well with his former activists and party members who wanted him out of their organizations. His outrageous behaviors did not also bound well with some of his allies.
His personal life was not spared either as this was evident when he separated from his wife. In the middle of the controversy and separation, it was rumored that Tom Foran, the then president of ITGWU was having an affair with James wife, a reason that led to their divorce. Apart from this, James also lost his membership of the ITGWU. He died in Dublin Ireland in January 1947 at the age of 71.