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Staff at Matsushita in Japan are being asked to buy the company's products to boost its sales. It's a peculiar Japanese thing, but staff have been encouraged to spend around 10 per cent of their summer bonuses on goods produced by the company - which owns, among other brands, Panasonic.

Bonuses are a very different matter in Japan and the two annual payments (summer and winter) account for about half a worker's annual pay. For the average employee, 10 per cent amounts to a little over £1,000.

Also, in Japanese work culture, such a request would not be compulsory but would be considered a duty. There will also be an aspect of shame in that staff will be expected to hand copies of receipts to their bosses.

Matsushita is in a spot of bother due to the slowdown in the US economy. This isn't the first time this idea has been hit upon either - staff were asked to do exactly the same thing in 1998 with their winter bonuses.

Here at Vulture Central, it has been the staff asking management for the opportunity to invest in the company. Informal talks were held by reporters and the manager of the local tavern, the Old Monk, with a view to buying the public house outright or a part share. Unfortunately, the deal fell through after no one could remember exactly what we'd discussed. ®

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