James Larkin, also known as “Big Jim,” was born in Liverpool, England in 1876. His parents were from Ireland; they were James Larkin and Mary Ann McNulty. His father worked as a fitter for an engineering firm.
James Larkin lived with his parents in the slums of England. He, in order to support his parents financially, worked in the evenings after school. At the age of 14, his father passed away. This tragedy caused Larkin and his mother a financial crisis. Therefore, Larkin had to drop out of school and find full-time employment.
Larkin was able to find employment at his father’s former firm. Unfortunately, he was laid off in less than two years.
Jim Larkin held numerous jobs during this period. He worked as a sailor, paperhanger, butcher’s assistant and even as a French polisher. He found stable employment at the docks of Liverpool.
When Larkin was a teenager, he was heavily influenced by the works of Karl Marx. Larkin was part of the Independent Labour Party. Larkin became a foreman throughout the years.
And throughout the years, he also witness a lot of abuse and exploitation from his employer. Larkin’s life radically changed in 1905. After he took part in a strike of the Liverpool docks, he was noticed by the National Union of Dock Labourers. Larkin was known for his passion and courage. Thus, the union recruited him.
Larkin obtained a permanent position within the organization, and over time, he was sent to Scotland so that he could unionize workers. It was a big success. He created unions in Glasgow and Preston. After this, Larkin gained a a lot of popularity.
Larkin later participated in the famous industrial Lockout of 1913. Larkin fought courageously for both unskilled and skilled workers. He fought for fair wages and treatment. During this industrial dispute, he focused on Guiness and the Dublin United Tramway Company.
Larkin, after leaving the National Union of Dock Labourers, founded the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, organization which still exists. Larkin is known throughout the world for his humanitarian endeavors.