Tyranny of Employers, Landlords

Apr 22 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com. )

It is no secret that many become wealthy from the exploitation of labour. Capitalists, which we know as employers, make excess profits but do not even pay their employees the salary they deserve. It is the grand thesis of Marx, and underpins his famous manifesto.

It is true what they say, “success breeds more success.” For these people, wealth breeds more wealth. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of the less fortunate employees. Nonetheless, those at the bottom of the wealth and income ladder seem to be more generous and sharing than the rich. But not all affluent people are the same; there are many that give back to their communities.

I have worked as a salesperson before. Sometimes, an employee’s salary depends on sales that came in and might be late but never early. However, the fact that a product is sold or not is irrelevant to an employee’s salary as it is the owner's problem to tackle. When I say this, I am not talking about commission-based sales. As per a contract, an employee is supposed to get paid at the end of the month whether business is slow or booming.

But many of us tolerate our salaries not coming in on time even though we have pressing issues and bills to pay. At times, that is the only thing we can do, and as a result, everything else has to wait, leaving our landlords angry.

Why is it that an established firm with a decent profit margin finds it hard to pay salary on time?

While they have money to spend on maintaining the status of the employees at the higher echelon, they forget to attend to the basic needs of the less fortunate employees at the bottom of the chain.

Given the economic system we have, all people have to rely on is a salary. Some tell me that they make less than four thousand Birr a month, and yet pay five thousand Birr for rent.

“How do you even live?” is my usual retort.

What will be the motivation to work if all our salary is going to rent or a single bill we have to pay?

We wake up every day and head to work because our life depends on it but we neither get motivated nor excited by it. Why is it that the same organisation that pays salaries late does not pay ahead of time when business is good? It is because they have very little incentives to care about their employees.

On the other spectrum, we have landlords who keep pushing the bar for rent every few months either because a street nearby has been paved or other houses in the neighbourhood are renting out for higher sums. Even though there is currently a moratorium on rent hikes and tenant evictions in Addis Abeba, landlords are paying little heed.

For instance, a friend of mine lived in a two-bedroom apartment with her sister and she used to pay around seven thousand Birr. The rate had remained unchanged for four years. A few weeks ago, her landlord suddenly dropped the bomb and doubled the rent.

Credit should be given where it is due. The landlord has made any rate hikes for years, which is more than what could be said for other property owners in the city. But to double the rent in one fell swoop, especially when the cost of living is spiralling out of control, comes as a shock. It could be that the landlord is trying to overcompensate for lost time or maybe the inflation is getting on his nerves too.

We do not always see landlords as people having financial problems but greedy without a thought for their fellow citizens. At the end of the day, we have to be considerate, think about one another and treat people how we want to be treated.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 22,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1147]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com.

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