Jim Larkin: The Shaper of the Labor Landscape

Anyone interested in the development of unionism in the United Kingdom would do well to learn more about the historical figure James Larkin. James Larkin may have been born to an impoverished family, but he would go on to do some of the most significant things in business.

His work had lasting implications and can be seen to this day in the fair practices that are exercised by, and mandated for, many business organizations within the United Kingdom.

He began his life as inconsequential and grew to become a giant in his industry, commanding a staggering amount of respect from his peers.

Originally, James Larkin was from Liverpool. He was born there on January 28th, 1874. He did not enjoy a charmed life, in fact, he would have been part of the lowest class in society. He actually grew up in the slums of Liverpool, but it gave him a very good view of the disparity that was present between those who had wealth and those who did not.

He started working at a very young age and secured a position as a foreman. This allowed him to command a little bit of respect and join the National Union of Dock Laborers. He found that he enjoyed this type of organization, and went into full-time trade unionization from there.  Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/ and http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm

He is well known for founding the General Workers’ Union and the Irish Transport. The General Workers’ Union was important because it allowed workers who were considered unskilled to join a union, this was something that had not been available to them before.

He saw that this group of people still needed some type of representation and he wanted to be the one to provide that for them. His most famous success was the Dublin Lockout, where 100,000 workers earned their right to equal and fair employment after an extensive strike.

During his later years, he engaged in public speaking and minor unionization efforts. He was even jailed in America, having been charged with criminal anarchy and communism.

While he was eventually pardoned for those supposed crimes, he was deported back to Ireland instead of England. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and James Larkin | Ireland Calling

During this time, he chose to settle down and focus on his work with local unions. He worked very happily alongside his colleagues for many years, until an accident hospitalized and eventually killed him.

He remains a substantial figure in history and created a huge impact on the labor landscape of England.

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