I’ll begin this post by stating the obvious. To be employed is a good thing. You sell your skills and make a living. If a job comes with a high salary and perks, you even get to travel the world.
That’s a good thing because many people, especially in the developing world, will never see any country physically other than the one where they were born and raised.
Your monthly payment is your god. You may believe in the bigger, imaginary, and popular god, but the truth is that your real god is money. Your employment (or business) guarantees a steady supply of that god. The moment that god disappears, you’ll starve—or beg people for food. You won’t be able to pay rent, you won’t be able to consult a doctor. If you’re a man, you may even fail to get it up.
Yet employment is not permanent, and employers aren’t under any obligation to employ you forever. They can only employ you if they can pay you and they need your skills. If there’s any disruption to their source(s) of revenue, they either ask you to leave or cut your salary. It’s the right thing to do. Anyone running a business would do it.
We’ve seen the same happening in many places across the world since COVID-19 started unleashing its terror on humanity and brought economic activity to a near standstill.
Some employees refuse to take pay cuts and protest. It’s all too easy to see why they do that. Many have never employed anyone, and they think that organisations/companies that employ them can still pay them even when they aren’t making any money. It’s ridiculous.
For those who can sell their skills to other employers and still earn the same or even higher pay, there’s no need to continue working if your salary is cut. But those who protest and stop working amaze and amuse me. They’re basically saying: “Yes, we know you aren’t making money, but you still have to pay us the same salaries we’ve always been paid.”
They threaten to quit forgetting that the easiest thing to do for many employers is to find employees to replace those who have quit. In nearly all places, vacancies are vastly outnumbered by job seekers. It’s rare for a really good job to attract just one applicant even if the employer is known to treat workers like doormats. People quit jobs where they’ve not been paid for months, and there will be dozens lining up to take up those jobs.
I’ll end my post with a good example I saw many years ago when I was a young journalist. Three years after Uganda’s second-largest newspaper, Daily Monitor, was launched, all its topnotch journalists—about 12—quit over poor remuneration and launched a new paper. They called it The Crusader.
It was a good paper, and it did well for a couple of years. Unfortunately, it folded and some of the journalists who quit Daily Monitor ended up going back because they couldn’t find a good employer.
Daily Monitor didn’t have any difficulty replacing the journalists who quit. It went to campus, as Ugandans call Makerere University, and hired new reporters and editors.
By the time The Crusader disappeared from the newsstands, Daily Monitor’s new journalists were able to do what those who quit launching The Crusader were able to do.
Moral: Employees and employers need each other, but employers always have the upper hand. If you don’t know that, you’re very naive.
The author is a journalist/social commentator