​The public service wage bill has become an albatross that the government just can’t seem to shake. It has also become the elephant in the room in a trending public conversation about professionalising and depoliticising the public service, even before Covid-induced belt tightening.

The problem is that the manner in which the “unsustainable' and “bloated” wage bill is discussed remains locked in adversarial binaries between what the state can afford and what public sector unions are prepared to accept. This often degenerates into tactical posturing between the parties around percentage increments and the threat of legal action...

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