Winter of Discontent
The Winter of Discontent refers to the winter of 1978–79 in the United Kingdom, during which there were widespread strikes by public sector trade unions demanding larger pay rises, following the ongoing pay caps of the Labour Party government led by James Callaghan against Trades Union Congress opposition to control inflation, during the coldest winter for 16 years.The strikes were a result of the Labour government's attempt to control inflation by a forced departure from their social contract with the unions by imposing rules on the public sector that pay rises be kept below 5%, to control inflation in itself and as an example to the private sector. However, some employees' unions conducted their negotiations within mutually agreed limits above this limit with employers. While the strikes were largely over by February 1979, the government's inability to contain the strikes earlier helped lead to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative victory in the 1979 general election and legislation to restrict unions. Public sector employee strike actions included an unofficial strike by gravediggers working in Liverpool and Tameside, and strikes by refuse collectors. Additionally, NHS ancillary workers formed picket lines to blockade hospital entrances with the result that many hospitals were reduced to taking emergency patients only.The phrase ""Winter of Discontent"" is from the opening line of William Shakespeare's Richard III: ""Now is the Winter of our Discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York…"", and was first applied to the events of the winter by Robin Chater, a writer at Incomes Data Report. It was subsequently used in a speech by James Callaghan and translated to define a crisis by tabloids – including The Sun.The weather turned very cold in the early months of 1979 with blizzards and deep snow, the coldest since 1962–63, rendering some jobs impossible, reducing retail spending and worsening the economy.