Name your price for millennium shift

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WILD HORSES won't drag some people into work on the millennium New Year's Eve, but others are ready to turn up for more than 10 times their usual wages.

Staff who will have to cope with drunken revellers are among those insisting on the biggest percentage increases, according to a survey by Barclays Merchant Services.

The going rate for security personnel at London entertainment venues will be pounds 30 to pounds 50 an hour compared with the usual rate of about pounds 4. Some caterers near the meridian line at Greenwich are known to be contemplating the creation of the first pounds 1,000-a-shift waiter.

One in four employees is so determined not to work that they would prefer to quit rather than go to work, the survey suggests. Nearly two-thirds of respondents told researchers they would refuse to report for duty.

Bars, restaurants and hotels could face an embarrassing shortage of staff unless there is a substantial financial lure.

Some workers are determined to cash in. The Mean Fiddler Organisation was seeking to hire the London Arena in the Docklands area of the capital, and was told it would have to pay four or five times the usual fee, largely because of the wages demanded by staff. Security personnel at the arena - who assume they will be dealing with many more drunks than at normal new year celebrations - have demanded, and will be paid, pounds 45 an hour.

Female respondents in the Barclays study were less prepared than their male counterparts to be persuaded into work. Three out of 10 women said that no amount of money would make them work, although eight out of 10 men said extra cash could help them to change their minds.

Two out of ten respondents said it would take more than pounds 500 to get them to work on 31 December 1999, while a slightly higher proportion would go for an extra week's holiday.

David Shrimpton, of Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, said that nine in ten pubs and seven in ten hotels thought they would have difficulty in luring bar staff. Clearly, employees were expecting more than their usual treble time for a New Year's Eve, he said.

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