The struggle for workers rights in Ireland has come a long way. In the 20th century, workers in Ireland were facing a lot of challenges that include poor pay and deplorable working conditions. They were mistreated at the place of work and enjoyed minimal privileges.
Labor Unions only fought for the skilled workforce and neglected the unskilled workers who formed the majority of the workforce. The status quo seemed to remain the same for a long time since there was no hope for change. The only movements that swept through the country were political, and they ignored the plight of the Irish workforce.
When Jim Larkin came to fight for the workers’ rights, he seemed like an angel sent from above to liberate the workers from the yokes of mistreatment by their masters. Jim Larkin, who hails from Liverpool, England, was born to Irish immigrant parents.
He was the first individual to successfully hold a strike that fought for equal rights and better working conditions for the workers. He successfully organized National Union of Dock Laborers in 1906 and penetrated Ireland the following year.
When he arrived in Belfast, Jim Larkin tried to organize another strike for the unskilled labor force, but the NUDL officials signed a deal with the business owners without involving him. Jim was infuriated with the betrayal from his colleagues, and he decided to found his union that would help to fight for the rights of the unskilled workers.
Armed with determination, Jim Larkin established the Irish Transport & General Workers Union (ITGWU). The union became popular among the unskilled workforce, and within three years of establishment, ITGWU was one of the largest and successful unions in Ireland.
Jim Larkin used the union to fight for equal rights, good working environment and fair treatment for the unskilled labor force. He organized numerous strikes through the union in a bid to liberate people from oppression by companies and business owners.
Although most of the strikes organized by the union were successful, Jim Larkin faced a lot of opposition, especially from William Martin Murphy. He was a conservative nationalist and the founder of Dublin United Tramway Company (DUTC). In 1913, Jim Larkin organized a strike but Murphy instructed his workers to renounce the strike, or they would be fired.
The workers did not heed to Murphy’s instructions, and they decided to proceed with the strike. As a result, Murphy decided to lock out all the employees who went on strike and attempted to hire new employees to replace them.
This did not go down well with the employees, and they made sure that the facility is shut down. The striking employees engaged the police in running battles, and it almost became a norm.
The following year, ITGWU depleted their resources and they, therefore, couldn’t continue with the strike. They rejoined the workforce and continued with their routine.
Although Larkin failed in organizing a formidable strike that would cause massive change as he wanted, he managed to send a warning to the employers who feared that their workers would retaliate if mistreated.
He succeeded in mobilizing the unskilled workforce in Dublin that consequently led to better salaries and working conditions for the workers.