James (Big Jim) Larkin once said ‘A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’. He, quite literally, meant exactly what and how he uttered that phrase. To him, these words were to live by.
Jim was not a very well educated man, he fell into the general worker category like so many others of that time, but he never let that stop him from helping others. Jim saw the injustice to the poverty stricken population. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/jim-larkin-released-from-prison
He watched as far too many people piled into small homes just to have a place to live. Jim could see that the most impoverished were forced to compete with one another on a daily basis for temporary work, the winning person would have work for that day, but it would cost them any real wages, as the one who agreed to take the lowest pay was the one that got the job.
During his career, Jim quickly moved up the rungs to being a dock foreman and led the charge from that position to try and make all worker’s pay the same and a fair amount for the work that they were doing. Read more: James Larkin | Ireland Calling and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia
Perhaps his most famous work was the Dublin Lockout, in which over 20,000 workers rebelled against the unjust pay scale of 300 employers. The entire act lasted from August of 1913 to January of 1914.
It did not end well for Larkin, however, as his requests were denied by the British Trades Union Congress (TUC). The nearly starved and far more impoverished workers that went on strike were forced to either sign a pledge that they would not join a union and went back to work for menial pay again or joined the British Army. There were simply no other choices to be had.
Jim wasn’t ready to give up though. Having joined a union in 1905, the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL), and founded his own, the biggest in the region, the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU)in 1907, Jim already knew where he planned to take his inner knowledge and passion. After the Dublin Lockout in 1913, the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU)shattered, as did Larkin’s other endeavor the Irish Labour Party, (which held strikes and demonstrations).
Jim continued to fight and eventually won the rights to fair employment for workers of every skill level. Workers would only have to toil away for eight (8) hours a day and would be paid a set lump sum rather than having to bid on the lowest amount, only receiving a nominal amount that was far less than what they and the work were worth.
Needless to say that many companies were unhappy with Jim Larkin’s efforts but eventually settled into a routine. Jim himself married in 1903 and had four sons to carry on his legacy.
One of his children, Young Jim and Jim’s brother Peter formed the Workers’ Union of Ireland (WUI), in an attempt to continue backing all of Jim’s hard. work.