Christmas cancelled; staff look for the door. An early Christmas “gift” from eyewear giant Luxottica, home to brands Budget Eyewear, OPSM, Laubman & Pank and Sunglass Hut. Staff were this week sent an “update” from the CEO of Asia Pacific, Greater China and South Africa, Chris Beer, thanking them for what he called their “hard work and commitment in preparation for the spring and Christmas period” and advising them that any staff Christmas parties had been cancelled in lieu of extra training. Many of the staff, who are already being courted by optical rival Spec Savers, have been left scratching their heads in disbelief, wondering why their hard work is simply being rewarded with training in making more money for the business.

Beer wrote: “This year the Exec Team has taken the decision that we would rather invest in training and development and forgo Christmas parties for 2010… While this has been a difficult decision, I’m sure you’ll understand that when resources are stretched investing in our teams is clearly the most important use of our funds.” If you really want to reward your staff, how about handing the tin around the Italian headquarters after the Group posted its strongest quarter ever this past July, with net income reaching €150 million  and net sales approaching €1.6 billion? Oh dear, better run, that sounds like a better offer at the door.

Newspaper free-for-all (cont): Several eagle-eyed workers in our office noticed that, for no explicable reason, Hobart’s The Mercury was suddenly being offered for free with a breakfast meal from a very popular fast-food chain. Somebody did ask whether we are in circulation counting time. It wasn’t until I read your email that the penny dropped. The ad in The Mercury even said “for a limited time only” so I wonder if the offer will stop the day the audits stop …

Newspaper free-for-all (cont): The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is running the “a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald is included in your entrance fee” trick, too.