Taken out of context, part of the recent Constitutional Court judgment on public sector wages has contributed to a jaundiced view of government workers, says Terry Bell.
There is considerable anger throughout the labour movement at the ruling by the Constitutional Court, backing lower court decisions, that the government had the right to renege on the third year of a three-year pay deal with the public sector. When all the facts are taken into account, it is an anger — directed primarily at the government, not the courts — that is perfectly understandable.
Because what this decision clearly did was to provide an illustration that the law and justice are often only distantly related; that the law, as Dickens noted, can be an ass. But, in this case, an ass manipulated by a government that is now perhaps more deeply distrusted than ever before, especially by public sector workers who continue to be portrayed in much of the media as greedy.