The Oxford Biblical Studies Online and Oxford Islamic Studies Online have retired. Content you previously purchased on Oxford Biblical Studies Online or Oxford Islamic Studies Online has now moved to Oxford Reference, Oxford Handbooks Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, or What Everyone Needs to Know®. For information on how to continue to view articles visit the subscriber services page.

Related Content

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Social sciences
  • Business and Management


Show Summary Details


winter of Discontent

Quick Reference

The wave of strike action in the winter of 1978–9 which preceded the election of Margaret Thatcher as UK Prime Minister and was used to legitimize the programme of Conservative trade union reform through the 1980s and 1990s. The strikes represented a rejection by many groups of workers of the Labour government's incomes policy, which had led to a fall in real earnings for public sector employees and many skilled workers in the private sector. For critics, the Winter of Discontent exemplified the problem of ‘excessive’ union power in the UK and the symbol of callous strike action, ‘when the dead lay unburied’, has been used repeatedly since then as a stick to beat the trade union movement.

Reference entries