Argues that although 2002 was undoubtedly the most challenging year for a long time for local government employers it does not herald a return to the climate of the 1970s and the “Winter of Discontent”, as too many things have changed socially and economically for this to occur. For example, Parliament changed the legal framework for industrial action to the employers’ advantage, employers and governments learned how to win disputes, inflation fell and has stabilised at low levels, employees have become tied to expensive mortgage repayments, inherited concepts of job security no longer apply as a general rule, and the pensions promise has been severely eroded in much of the private sector, for new starters at least. Within this context describes the background and the outcomes of the local government and fire disputes of 2002.
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