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CITU General Council Meeting inauguration at Bellary Karnataka

8th July 2014

 

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                               

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions(CITU) expressed serious concern at the BJP Govt’s first Railway Budget, 2014-15 which declares its dependence on so called public private partnership, private investment including FDI for funding its infrastructural and capacity augmentation projects. It reflects nothing but continuity of the same pro-corporate policy of the much discredited Congress Regime, rather in more aggressive form.

Just weeks before the Railway Budget, steep hike in passenger fares and freight charges to the tune of 14.2% and 6.5 % respectively exposed the brazen undemocratic as well as anti-people modus operandi of the BJP Govt. Added to this is the budgetary announcement of linking the future prices of travel with fuel adjustment factor which will result in virtual deregulation of railway fares providing for automatic increase in railway fares with the increase in price of fuel. This is nothing but an arrangement for perpetual increase of burden on common people.

Further, the thrust on PPP, FDI and outsourcing in various segments of railway operation and services as outlined in the current Railway Budget, is going to make the situation worse. Despite abject failure of the same exercise on depending on PPP route for infrastructural expansion and services during the UPA regime as reflected in plan expenditure in 2013-14 falling short by a whopping “Rs 59,359 crore from the target due to non-materialisation of PPP targets”, the Modi Govt also preferred to stick to the same provenly failed route. This means, either the expansion work will suffer or the private investors’ lobby will extract more undue concessions from the Govt in the process of their response, finally increasing the burden on the common people. Precisely, that had been the past experience of all PPP projects in sea-ports, airports, roads etc during the UPA’s tenure which increased the burden on the consumers and the people in a big way.

Despite admitting in the budget the abject failure of the Railways to implement the declared and sanctioned projects even to an insignificant extent, resulting in huge accumulation of unfulfilled projects announced in successive budgets, the current Budget failed to present any concrete roadmap for their execution except giving sound bites on prioritization, time frame etc. Even the new announcements made in the current budget do not have appropriate budgetary back-up, rendering them to be deceptive in real sense.

The Budget sounded high on Govt’s commitment to safety, but kept absolute silence about filling up around 3 lakh vacancies in the Railways, majority of which are related to management and maintenance of safety standards in railway operation.  

CITU records its condemnation to this anti-people and privatization oriented Railway Budget and calls upon the working people to voice their protest against such retrograde exercise of the Modi Govt.

Issued by

(TAPAN SEN)

General Secretary

Press Release                                                                                                      

4th July 2014

 

CITU DENOUNCES THE RAJASTHAN GOVT’S MOVE TO CONVERT THE ACT INTO A SCHEME

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions denounces the move by the BJP Govt in Rajasthan to dilute and scrap the “right based provisions for employment” under Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) as reported by the press. The move initiated by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan to propose various changes in the MNREG Act and the various propositions made thereon are basically designed to strip MNREGA of the legal guarantee for employment and convert the right based Act into a scheme.

It appears, the BJP led Govt of Rajasthan is playing the role, in the backdrop of present political combine ruling at the centre (NDA) to pilot the programme for bringing about all brazenly anti-worker changes in the entire labour law regimes in the country.  Its earlier decision to amend Industrial Disputes Act and the Factories Act etc was also meticulously designed to empower the employers to retrench workers at will, push sizable section of factories and their workers out of the coverage of most of the labour laws and curb the rights of the trade unions. And now the propositions for changes in MNREGA basically seeks to take away whatever legal guarantee for minimum 100 days employment available to rural households in a situation when rural unemployment has assumed an alarming proportion.

CITU vehemently condemns such move of the Rajasthan Govt, demands upon the Central Govt not to indulge in such exercise. CITU calls upon the working people throughout the country and all the trade unions irrespective of affiliations to unitedly resist any such anti-people move. CITU demands that the MNREGA must be implemented in letter and spirit to ensure full 100 days’ work for all rural households and also the provisions for unemployment allowance as envisaged in the Act.   

Issued by

( TAPAN SEN )

General Secretary

27th June 2014

Press Release                                                                                               

CITU EXPRESSES

CONCERN OVER THE GAS PIPELINE ACCIDENT KILLING 14 AND INJURING MANY

DEMANDS ENQUIRY ON ACCIDENT AND COMPENATION TO THOSE KILLED AND INJURED

Centre of Indian Trade Unions expresses severe concern over the gas-pipeline blast in Magaram village at Amalapuram Mandal of East Godavari District at Andhra Pradesh on 27th early morning killing at least 14 people and injuring several others.

The pipelines belong to GAIL and the blast that had taken place exposed the serious deficit and negligence in maintaining the safety and security of the pipelines spreading over human habitation on the part of concerned authority including GAIL and also the main beneficiary of that pipeline, the power plant of Lanco Infotech.

CITU urges upon the State Government and the Petroleum Ministry to immediately intervene so that 1) An enquiry is conducted by a high-power-impartial agency to find out cause and fix the responsibility, 2) corrective steps are taken to ensure safety and security of the gas pipeline, 3) the families of those killed in the accident are appropriately compensated and employment provided to their kin, 4) Appropriate compensation are paid to those injured besides making all arrangement for their medical treatment.

Issued by

(TAPAN SEN)

General Secretary

24th June 2014

Communique from CITU Centre                                                                       

The first meeting between the union Labour Minister, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar with the central trade unions was held on 24th June 2014 at Shram Shakti Bhawan, New Delhi. The Minister of State for Labour, Shri Vishnudeo Sai along with Labour Secretary, Chief Labour Commissioner(central)Central Provident Fund Commissioner, Financial Commissioner, ESIC and other labour department officials were also present in the meeting.

Leadership of all the central trade unions spoke in on voice urging upon the Labour Minister for a directional change in approach and policy so that the legitimate interests of working people who produce wealth for the nation, resources for the exchequer and also profit for the employers are protected and taken care of and also the interests of the national economy and the national assets and resources are harnessed for the benefit of the majority of the populace. Trade unions conveyed their strong opposition to the policy of opening up all sectors to 100% FDI, reckless deregulation of strategic sectors and natural resources of the economy including the financial sector, aggressive disinvestment of PSUs and privatization of crucial public utility services etc. Resentment was also conveyed on the steep hike in railway fares and freight charges through executive order which would further aggravate the already rising prices of essential commodities. Central Trade Unions were represented by B N Rai and Shri Sharma (BMS), G Sanjeeva Reddy and Ashok Singh (INTUC), Amarjeet Kaur and D L Sachdeva (AITUC), Harbhajan Singh Sidhu and B D Nagpal (HMS), Tapan Sen and A K Padmanabhan (CITU), Krishna Chakraborty and R K Sharma (AIUTUC), S P Tewari (TUCC), Rajib Dimri and Santosh Roy (AICCTU), Abani Roy (UTUC), Monali (SEWA), S Sammughan (LPF) etc.

As opening comment, the Labour Secretary, Smt Gauri Kumar stressed upon strengthening tripartism as the most crucial instrument for addressing the problems of labour as well as maintaining industrial harmony and peace for facilitating productive growth of the economy on the path of employment generation. In response, the trade unions pointed out that for strengthening effective tripartism, the Govts, both at the centre and in the states must refrain from any kind of unilateralism and one-sided approach on matters involving and affecting the workers and employers must be made to implement all the labour laws in true spirit. Trade Unions pointed to the recent unilateral move by the state government in Rajasthan to amend vital labour laws in favour of the employers which was resolutely opposed by all the trade unions in the state. It was also pointed out that the central govt also has been taking hurried steps to push through major amendments to number of principal labour statutes viz., Factories Act, Minimum Wages Act and Child Labour Act etc affecting the workers.

The Central Trade Unions pointed out that if the spirit of tripartism is to be upheld and strengthened, then all the consensus recommendations of the highest tripartite forum in the country, the Indian Labour Conference must be implemented in letter and spirit. The successive sessions of Indian Labour Conference, viz., 42nd, 43rd, 44th and 45th sessions of ILC have drawn conclusions through consensus in respect of major issues pertaining the workers like upward revision of minimum wage, universal social security including pension, granting recognition as workers with attendant benefits of statutory wage and social security to the entire workforce in all central govt schemes viz., Anganwadi, mid-day-meal, ASHA, Sarv-siksha aviyan etc and same wage for same and similar work for contract workers etc. But nothing has been done by the Govt in this regard. This Govt must implement those consensus recommendations.

The trade unions urged upon the Minister to take serious note of the most volatile situation emerging at the workplaces throughout the country owing to mass scale violation of all basic labour laws and most ineffective, rather indulgent role of the enforcement machinery in favour of the law-violating employers’ class. In fact the law enforcement machinery of the labour department both in centres and the states are being deliberately and continuously weakened with huge vacancies of inspectors, other officials and even judges in labour courts piling up, to create ground for such non-enforcement-all aimed at the benefits of the employers class. The incidence of Maruti-Suzuki at Manesar, Haryana, virtual closure of Nokia plant at Tamilnadu, closure of Hind Motor, Jessop and Duckback and shut-downs in number of Jute Mills in West Bengal are the examples of such indulgence by administration to violation of labour laws on the one hand and outcome of the faulty policies of the Govt on the other. It is the basic duty of any Govt in a civilized society to ensure rule of law in workplaces instead of indulging in anarchy by the employers, the trade unions asserted.

The trade unions reiterated before the Labour Minister their ten point demands on which they have been agitating since last five years in various ways including strikes and urged upon the Govt to expeditiously act in sorting out those bottom-line demands, on many of which there had already been consensus in tripartite ILC. The trade unions also demanded immediate action on increasing the minimum pension to Rs1000/- under Employees’ Pension Scheme and raising the ceiling on provident Fund Scheme to Rs 15000/- on which decision had already been finalized by the previous government.

The Labour Minister while thanking the trade union representatives for the valuable inputs given by them on labour matters, assured that the Govt would accord due consideration to the demands of the trade unions. He also conveyed that on the issue of increase in minimum pension and also raising the ceiling on provident fund scheme to Rs 15000/-, decision will be taken by the Govt within two weeks time. Labour Minister also stated that his ministry’s priority will be to protect the interests of workers and he sought cooperation and help from all the central trade unions.

Tapan Sen

General Secretary

19th June 2014

Madam Gauri Kumar,
Secretary to Govt of India
Ministry of Labour & Employment
Shram Shakti Bhawan
Rafi Marg, New Delhi 110001

Sub: Proposals to amend the Factories Act 1948, Minimum Wages Act 1948 and Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act 1986 as circulated through your website inviting comments/observation in June 2014

Dear Madam,

In respect of above-referred subjects, following is our response:

No doubt, the issues under reference along with the tardy implementation of the concerned Acts along with other important Acts surfaced in discussion in various forums during last couple of years but it is somewhat unusual reflecting an undue haste, that proposals for amendments of these three Acts have been circulated almost one after another within a span of a fortnight in June 2014, even before formally consulting the central trade unions before giving the amendment proposals a final shape, as per usual practice.

Amendments to above Acts, you will appreciate, are going to have direct impact on the workers. Before going in for scrutinizing the proposals clause by clause, the issue itself needs to be discussed with the Central Trade unions -the main stakeholder representing those directly effected or affected by the such amendments to decide on issues and priorities of such amendment exercise.

There are number of incongruities/inconsistencies in the proposals for amendments which are required to be closely looked into. For example, amendment proposals on Minimum Wages Act 1948 finalised in late 2013 referred to the discussion in 40th Indian Labour Conference held in November 2005 but has not taken into account at all the consensus recommendation of the 44th Indian Labour Conference held on 14-15 February 2012 which laid down the basis of formulating the minimum wage level. There are other examples too.

However, CITU urges upon that, the entire issue including priorities of amendments to the said Acts should be discussed with the Central Trade Unions before finalization of the proposals of amendments and any step taken thereon.

With regards,
Yours sincerely,
General Secretary

 23rd June 2014


Dear Shri Narendra Modi Ji,

It is learnt from the press report that the Govt is considering increase in price of natural gas based on the exercises made in that regard by the previous Govt.  In this regard, I would like to bring to your notice certain facts and request you to exercise due diligence in the matter before taking any decision.

I had written several letters to your predecessor Prime Minister as well requesting not to allow such exercise of such huge price hike of natural gas based on a tailor-made formulae just to facilitate windfall gains for the contractor/s handling natural as well national resources. Natural gas is being produced domestically and must be priced based on cost plus reasonable returns on investment. Any other methodology of pricing having no relevance with the cost of production in the name of “market-determined” or “arm’s length basis”, tailor-made to benefit the contractor is bound to have perverse impact on the economy as well as people at large. I request to please consider this aspect seriously.  

During the UPA-II regime, the power and fertilizer ministries vehemently opposed the whole exercise for increasing the price of natural gas based on Rangarajan Committee recommendation on valid grounds.  They highlighted the huge subsidy burden on the Govt as a result of the proposed doubling of the gas price(from $4.2 to $8.4) as per the new formulae. The fertiliser ministry estimated that the additional subsidy requirement would be Rs.14,500 crore per annum from 2013-14 to 2016-17 and Rs. 19,000 crore from 2017-18 onwards (assuming Rs 60=1$ and increase from $4.2 to $8.4 per mmbtu). Similarly, the power ministry estimated that the impact would be Rs. 29,800 crore per annum, based on the requirement of existing plants and Rs. 46,360 crores, if one considered the capacity under construction as well. Thus the increased requirement of subsidy annually would be Rs. 44,860 crores on a conservative basis and Rs. 66,360 crores if all the new plants were commissioned. It should be noted that these numbers were mentioned in the Cabinet note itself.

And while the burden on the Govt and therefore on the people will increase phenomenally owing to the proposed doubling of the natural gas price, the contractor’s profit will also increase in a big way  thereby  making the whole exercise for pricing- a mechanism for a transfer from public to private kitty.  If we assume a very modest production of only 50 mmscmd, against the required production figure of 80 mmscmd, the calculations  show that the proposed increase in gas-price from $4.2 per mmbtu ($1=Rs60) will lead to an additional revenue of RIL to the tune of Rs18000 crore in one year or Rs90000 crore over a period of five years.

Is there any justification for such open loot of the country's natural resources by a private company? This additional profit will of course be obtained from the end users of gas, ie, users of fertilisers (i.e. the farmers of the country) and power consumers ( i.e. the common people of the country).

There has been an attempt to obfuscate the issue by projecting that the price increase would benefit the PSUs more than Reliance. This argument needs to be effectively rejected. There is no justification of benefitting even PSUs out of the way simultaneously imposing huge additional avoidable burden on the public exchequer. Moreover, ONGC and OIL are PSUs with a majority share of the government which also shoulders a part of the Govt’s burden on fuel subsidy. In fact there is a clear precedent for the same. Both ONGC and OIL are part of the revenue sharing arrangement to finance the fuel subsidy of the government. Thus even though crude prices of $110 per barrel are paid to both ONGC and OIL, these are only notional payments. The Government then takes a discount on prices, which is credited back to the government, from both these companies to fund the fuel subsidy for diesel, kerosene and LPG. After the discount, the prices that these companies actually get is in the order of $50-60 per barrel depending on their exact share. It is eminently plausible that the government will do the same for both its PSUs in respect of gas prices as well to fund the increased burden of subsidy.
                                    

Will RIL also be willing to hand over its humungous profits as a result of the price increase towards meeting the enhanced subsidy bill? Will the government levy a windfall tax on RIL to recover these super profits? If these steps are not possible, it is a complete fallacy to compare the situation of the PSUs to RIL.

I would also like to draw your attention to the unanimous recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance headed by Shri Yashwant Sinha, former MP representing BJP.


The important portions are produced below:

"The Committee believes that natural gas is a national resource and a public asset; and therefore any discourse on its pricing policy should reflect this principle so that it is used for the larger national good and not for profiteering."
"In the present economic situation with rampant inflation and a slowdown of the economy, any increase in gas prices will have a derailing effect on the economy generally and the downstream core sectors of fertilizer, power and steel, in particular."
"A scientific cost study in the gas basins warranting / justifying a higher price. It cannot be a mechanism only leading to windfall super-normal profits to entities, thereby putting the cost of private profit on society."
"The Committee are constrained to note that no due diligence was done before arriving at the decision to revise gas price. Neither was any cost or impact study done in this regard."
"In the light of the concerns enunciated above, the Committee would strongly recommend the Government to review forthwith its decision to raise gas prices and come out with fresh pricing which is more balanced and holistic and closely related to the audited cost of production and a reasonable return on the capital invested."

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas also recommended unanimously inter alia that, “ …the Rangarajan Committee formula for arriving at natural gas price should be thoroughly reviewed and reconsidered. The Committee recommend for factoring domestic cost of production of gas for arriving at the price and fixation of price of gas in rupee terms in PSC under NELP regime.”  

As you would kindly note that both the Parliamentary Committees have given an unequivocal report for reviewing the decision to increase gas prices and rejected the Rangarajan committee formula. I hope that this will also receive due consideration by you.

An impression was also sought to be created by the previous government that the price formula was fixed by a committee of experts led by Dr Rangarajan and could not therefore be questioned. But the very composition of the Committee itself evokes certain inescapable questions involving conflict of interest vis-à-vis the task undertaken. It is reported that one member of the Rangarajan Committee, is an associate of the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank funded by Reliance. Is this ethical? On this ground as well the matter needs fresh consideration by your government.

We would earnestly request you to take a fair and balanced view in the matter and protect national interest by ordering a thorough review of the proposed increase in natural gas prices.
With regards,  
Yours sincerely,
(TAPAN SEN )
            
Shri  Narendra Modi,
Prime Minister of India
South Block, New Delhi - 110001.

Copy to Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, Govt of India
Copy to Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Govt of India

Press Statement
 
21.06.2014
 
CITUstrongly condemns the steep increase in the passenger fares along with a hefty hike in the freight charges announced by the government. The passenger fares have been hiked across the board by 14.2% and the freight charges by 6.5%. In addition another 3% service tax is imposed on the freight users and AC passengers.
 
This is going to impose huge burdens on the railway travellers and the common people. The burden will be even more unbearable on the rural migrant workers and daily commuters. The hike in freight charges will increase the pries of all essential commodities and lead to huge inflation, imposing further burdens on the people already reeling under the impact of price rise, particularly the high food inflation. Instead of providing some relief to the people by curbing price rise, as promised by the BJP in its election campaign, the Modi government has imposed further burdens on them.
 
In addition, the BJP led government displayed its disrespect for democratic procedures by increasing the railway fares even when the railway budget is scheduled to be presented in the Parliament in a few days.
 
The"railway fare hike probably is the beginning of the 'tough measures' that the Prime Minister warned the country of.
 
CITU demands immediate withdrawal of the railway fare hike. It calls upon all the workers and other sections of the people to lodge their strong protest against the increase in the railway fares, all over the country.
 
K.Hemalata
National Secretary
C.I.T.U
Monday, 16 June 2014 07:43

CITU Communique

16TH June 2014

CITU COMMUNIQUE

 

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions issued the following communiqué after the meeting of its National Secretariat in New Delhi on 14-15 June 2014.

The CITU Secretariat reviewed the post-poll situation in the country particularly in respect of the issues facing the mass of the working people and the national economy.

Campaign against TMC attacks on the people and the Left in West Bengal

The continued brutal attacks and intimidation on the Left parties and supporters including the common people by the Trinamool Congress hoodlums with the active patronage of the state administration in West Bengal is a matter of serious concern. The number of Left cadres killed after the election results were declared is increasing with every passing day. Many CITU offices have been attacked and ransacked. CITU cadres are bravely resisting and holding their ground despite such attacks in which many of them were grievously injured. CITU calls upon the working class in general and the CITU unions in particular to hold widespread solidarity campaigns throughout the country against such nefarious attack on the democratic people and the Left in West Bengal.

Renewed initiative for united struggle by trade unions

The national economy is in a serious crisis with continuing price-rise, aggravating unemployment, widespread industrial sickness and rampant closure/shutdown of industrial units throwing thousands of workers out of livelihood. The onslaught on the workers’ earnings, their social security and trade union rights continues to be widespread with the employers violating all basic labour laws with impunity.

It is a matter of satisfaction that in this situation all the central trade unions have expressed their determination to stay united on the common demands of the workers and submitted a joint memorandum to the Union Finance Minister in the pre-budget consultation meeting held on 6th June 2014. They have unitedly urged for a clear directional change in the policies that were pursued by the previous regime, landing the people and the economy in the present crisis. There is an urgent for renewed initiative and intervention by the entire trade union movement in the country in defence of the rights and livelihood of the workers taking forward the united movement of the last five years.

Immediate issues for concrete action by the Govt

The Central Board of Trustees of EPF unanimously agreed to enhance the minimum amount of pension under the Employees’ Pension Scheme and to enhance the ceiling on eligibility criteria under the EPF scheme to Rs 15000 with effect from 1st April 2014, which was approved by the then Union Cabinet in February 2014. The present government must immediately issue the notification in this matter. The government must also implement without delay the unanimous recommendations of successive sessions of the Indian Labour Conference, the highest tripartite forum of the country, on 1)enhancing the statutory minimum wage, 2)universalisation of social security including pension and recognising the workers under various central government schemes, viz. anganwadi employees, mid day meal workers, ASHAs, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan etc, as workers with attendant rights to statutory minimum wages, social security benefits and the right to organise and also 3) same wages and benefits as regular workers to the contract workers doing the same and similar jobs.

Imminent dangers and attacks on labour rights

The reported moves of the Modi government to deregulate financial sector of the economy including banks and insurance, allow enhanced FDI in Defence Sector and push through the further disinvestment/privatization of the blue-chip public sector units in the most strategic and sensitive sector of the economy, cause serious concern. These retrograde moves are in no way in the interests either of the country’s economy or the people at large and must be opposed resolutely by the trade union movement.

The BJP led Rajasthan government is reportedly taking measures to bring about drastic pro-employer changes in Industrial Disputes Act, Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act and Factories Act –all aimed at empowering the employers to retrench workers at will, delinking the contract labour from the concerned establishment and relieving the principal employers from all responsibilities, and pushing more than fifty per cent of the factories and their workers out of the purview and protection of any labour law. CITU strongly denounces these anti worker moves. This is a signal of similar anti-worker measures being initiated at the national level by the central government in the days to come. Trade union movement must prepare itself to fight back and resist such anti-people and anti-worker designs.

CITU General Council meeting

CITU will hold the meeting of its General Council in Bellary in Karnataka on 11-14 July 2014 to discuss its future course of action. 460 members from all over the country are expected to participate in the meeting. The National Secretariat finalised the contours of the report to be presented to the General Council and the preparatory work by the reception committee.

                                                                                       

                                                                                                        TAPAN SEN

                                                                                                        General Secretary

13th June 2014

Dear Shri Chandrasekharan,
 
It is shocking that a grievous accident took place at Blast Furnace of  Bhilai Steel Plant on 12th night in which six employees including a DGM, an officer, three workers including a contract worker were reportedly  killed on the spot and around 32 employees got severely injured.
 
On behalf of CITU, I convey my sincere condolence to the bereaved family members of the deceased employees and their fellow workers and employees in the plant.
 
I am sure that the management is seized with proper treatment of those injured including the contract workers.
 
At the same time, you will please appreciate, the manner the accident took place warrants a serious review of the safety management situation including the preventive safety aspects in the process of operation.  I have been told that the departmental  safety committees have not yet been constituted in Bhilai Steel Plant, which I understand, is a statutory obligation of the management. I request you to please look into the matter and also institute an inquiry on the accident to find out the cause and anticidents.
 
I hope, as per established practice, the employees killed in the accident including the contract workers would be appropriately compensated and a nearest kin of them would be provided employment by the management. I also understand the management would take appropriate step to pay adequate compensation to those injured including the contract workers besides taking care of their medical treatment to bring them back to health and work.
 
I again join the Bhiali Steel collective in condoling the tragic death of our colleagues while in work and expect quick recovery of those injured and incapacitated. I also request you to strengthen the safety management with the active participation and involvement of the workers and their union to prevent recurrence of such tragedies in workplace.
 
With regards,
Yours sincerely,
 ( TAPAN SEN )
General Secretary
 
 
Shri S Chandrasekharan
CEO
Bhilai Steel Plant
Bhilai 490001, Chhattisgarh
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