||South African Protest News 7- 17 June 2010 (2010) South African Protest News 7- 17 June 2010 . : -.
||Media silence on ongoing industrial action by SACCAWU members
SACCAWU 17 June 2010
We have noted with concern that despite the fact that our members at
Dis-Chem have been on strike and the picket-line for more than three
weeks now, the media have not been covering this industrial action.
We have issued numerous press releases and have received hardly any
coverage, but for the very rare reporting by a very few radio
stations and even less by the print media. This trend is of concern
because it is tantamount to silencing the voices of the workers and
their struggles. Of particular concern are the failure of SABC, the
public broadcaster, to report on our national strike actions. While
in the recent past the strikes at Woolworths, Makro, Game, Dion and
Sun International was reasonably covered the current round of
strikes has yet to make the news or receive the coverage it deserve
as matters of public interest.
This blanket silence on workers struggles from the side of the media
is of grave concern to us. We cannot help but wonder whether we are
experiencing some sort of self-censorship by the main stream media
where workers voices are muffled and workers struggles sacrificed at
the altar of the World Cup. This is not only unacceptable, but also
dangerous, as these same striking workers are called upon by the
same media to throw their lot behind the country in making this the
greatest FIFA World Cup competition ever, while ignoring these
Further, of concern to us is the fact that we will be embarking on a
second strike at Game & Dion from tomorrow and we also have obtained
a certificate of non-resolution in our dispute with Makro, which
might even see a third SACCAWU strike in the near future. A
continuation of this trend will be a gross failure of the media in
reporting news and matters of public interest.
Finally, it also appear that some companies are using the FIFA World
Cup competition to ride rough over workers, displaying extreme anti-
union attitudes and hoping that they can use the general mood
surrounding the World Cup to impose upon workers extremely
unfavourable wage increases and terms of conditions of employment
and the silence of the media demonstrate in the most unambiguous way
the callousness of bosses and the extent to which the media, even if
it is unwttingly, serve the interests of their masters of their
We refuse to accept that workers rights and interests should be
sacrificed at the altar of the FIFA World Cup competition and call
on the media to do justice to these genuine struggles of the working
class and cover give it the coverage it deserve as items of news and
issues of public interests.
Head office 0114038333
Mike Abrahams (Media Officer) 0716288474
Bones Skulu (General-Secretary) 0823365015
Mduduzi Mbongwe (Deputy General Secretary) 0823365146
Dis-Chem Hell-bent on destroying SACCAWU
SACCAWU SACCAWU 17 June 2010
After spending a fruitless day in a CCMA convened conciliation meeting with Dis-Chem, we have concluded that not only is the Company unwilling to make any effort to resolve the current dispute that have lead to workers now entering their fourth week on strike, but they are hell-bent on destroying the Union.
Despite all the efforts and willingness by the Union to make concessions to resolve the dispute and end the strike, Dis-Chem openly stated that even if SACCAWU had 100% membership in the company they are not oblige to negotiate with the Union. This disdain towards the SACCAWU is a clear indication of the company towards trade unions. In the conciliation meeting, the company went further and stated they are not prepared to meet with SACCAWU to seek a resolution to the current strike under any circumstances, and might consider negotiating with the Union next year. This blatant Apartheid style Industrial Relations is a serious attack by Dis-Chem not only on these workers but on our democracy and the labour laws, that seek to resolve disputes, promote healthy employer employee relationship and industrial peace. It was clear to us that the Company came to frustrate the process and not to seek a resolution to the strike as the legislation intend. This intransigent stance by the Company is unfortunate, because they will have to deal with SACCAWU, whether they like it or not, and this misguided approach will only make for hostile relations in the future instead of the healthy relationship the union strive for.
In fact, the visit by the owner, Ivan Saltzman, to some stores the day after the CCMA meeting where the Dis-Chem basically told the Union to get lost (much harsher words was used by workers to describe the attitude of the Company), to probably assess the morale of strikers further confirm the view that it is Saltzman himself driving this campaign to smash the Union. Of course, given the background of the HR manager, formerly from Solidariteit the mainly Afrikaner and white union, it is understandable why many workers believe this attitude by the Company has to do with the majority black employees having organised themselves and joined SACCAWU to represent their interests. Further, the fact that the HR manager arrived with plain-clothes armed guards to collect the memorandum a week ago demonstrate the mentality of the Company.
All these developments angered the striking workers, and instead of succumbing to this attitude coupled with the ongoing harassment on the picket-line workers have decided to intensify the strike and actively campaign for a consumer boycott of Dis-Chem.
In the meantime Dis-Chem have unilaterally implemented wage increases ranging between 0% and 10% with the bulk of the striking workers having received less than 3%. Many of the workers still earn less than R2000, even after the unilaterally implementation of increases.
SACCAWU is in the process of setting up Dis-Chem Strike Support Committees in communities that will actively mobilise the communities to boycott Dis-Chem. Further, SACCAWU intend calling meetings with Doctors and Nurses organisations to develop strategies that will show their active support for the striking workers.
We will not tolerate Apartheid style union-bashing! We call on the public to boycott Dis-Chem!
• Meaningful engagement with our Union aimed at meeting the following fair and reasonable demands;
• A minimum wage of R 3 500-00 per month;
• An across the board increase of 15%;
• All casual employees should be converted to permanent full-time employees after three months of employment;
• Parental Rights; a subsidized Medical Aid Scheme; a housing subsidy and meaningful long service awards.
• An immediate end to all forms of harassment and intimidation of workers who are currently on strike and are exercising their right to picket;
• That the Company should practice cordial industrial relations.
Head office 0114038333
Thabo Mahlangu 0823365682
Lee Modiga 0823365327
Mike Abrahams 0716288474
TAC to protest cuts in Aids funding
Sapa 17 June 2010
Several organisations including the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and
Cosatu are set to march to the US Consulate in Johannesburg on Thursday
to protest against cuts in Aids funding.
The TAC says: "European governments and the USA are betraying their
commitments to help fund HIV treatment in the world's poorest countries".
"We will be marching to the US Consulate in Johannesburg to make United
States President Barack Obama aware of the deaths that will result from
his anti-treatment policies."
The TAC said less than half the people in need of antiretroviral
treatment (ART) in Africa had access to the medicine.
"It is tragic, that under President Obama, the President's Emergency
Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) is cutting support for ART and flat-lining
funding for HIV/Aids."
The march, organised by the TAC, the Congress of SA Trade Unions and
Doctors Without Borders, was scheduled to start at George Lea Park in
Sandton at 11am.
Exams postponed as teachers protest
Dineo Matomela 7 June 2010
THOUSANDS of Eastern Cape pupils will miss their exams today after the
Education Department postponed tests for certain grades due to a SA
Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) protest.
Sadtu members will march in Bhisho today and hand over a memorandum to
Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet in protest “against poor service
delivery by the Education Department”.
The department has confirmed that a common arts and culture examination
to have been written at 9am today by pupils in Grades 3, 6 and 9 had
been postponed to tomorrow at 2pm.
Provincial exams head Mzimhle Mabona said the department had decided to
postpone the exams because of the march.
Both the march and the postponement of the exam have been condemned by
rival teachers’ unions and opposition politicians.
DA education spokesman Edmund van Vuuren said the protest was
unacceptable, especially during the exams period. “Why must children
suffer because the teachers are unhappy?” he asked.
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) provincial
chief executive Peter Duminy agreed. He said the rescheduled time could
mean younger siblings of the affected pupils would have to wait until
4pm to go home. “So who supervises them and feeds them?” he asked.
Duminy also said teachers with one or more subjects would have to
complete a double load of marking, collating and entering of marks into
administrative systems. “The deadline for this admin has not been
extended,” he said.
“Naptosa finds it tragic and ironic that the department’s decision to
postpone is in response to an action intended to put pressure on the MEC
to bring immediate solutions to the challenges facing education in the
Explaining the reason for the march, Sadtu provincial secretary Fezeka
Loliwe said the department had not responded to challenges raised by the
union at meetings held last month. “We never wanted to take to the
streets. We have tried talking to the department, but it does not have
education interests at heart and we are hoping the premier will intervene.”
She said issues raised with the department had included dilapidated
schools, pupil transport, non-payment of pensioners, Adult Basic
Education and teacher training.
Rates protest talks reach deadlock Comments
Donwald Pressly 17 June 2010
The department of Co-operative Governance and the National Taxpayers'
Union (NTU) have reached a standoff over when the withholding of
municipal rates by its mainly white members will end.
Jaap Kelder, the national leader of the umbrella body, which is
co-ordinating the public protest in about 70 municipalities around the
country, yesterday was emphatic that the NTU was not engaged in boycott
actions. "It is not a boycott. In contrast to the boycotters who can't
show a cent for it... we are happy to pay."
He said that a fund had been set up - which contained about R15 million
- into which rates withholders were paying their rates and service fees.
This money would be paid towards services once it was proved that
services were being carried out and rates were not been wasted by
However, in certain municipalities there had been a complete breakdown
in services to the community, he said.
Co-operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka's legal officer, André
Gaum, yesterday confirmed that talks had been held with the NTU but
agreement had yet to be reached on when the boycott would end.
The NTU's withholding of rates represents a small fraction of the R56
billion owed to the country's 284 municipalities, including over R30bn
to the metro councils, the bulk of which is owed by households.
Kelder said the union agreed that it would start paying rates in three
months, but the department was insisting on a six-week payment kick-in.
However, it had been agreed that pilot projects should be set up in four
towns where the government, ratepayers and community organisations could
work with municipal officials to identify and end poor service delivery.
The towns are Louis Trichardt in Limpopo, Barberton in Mpumalanga,
Bethlehem in the Free State and Sannieshof in the North West.
However, until an agreement is reached on the withholding of rates, the
projects will not commence.
Gaum confirmed that the department was still "in a process of
negotiating an agreement" that would be acceptable to both parties.
"The minister has indicated that rather than approaching the courts, he
would like to see an amicable settlement in which there is co-operation
between the associations and municipalities." Department
director-general Elroy Africa said a parallel government was "not
ANCYL presses Shiceka over Makhaza toilets
Glynnis Underhill 10 June 2010
A Cape Town African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leader has
told Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo
Shiceka that he is welcome to visit the strife‑torn Makhaza settlement
in Khayeltisha ‑‑ but he must bring toilets for the community.
Shiceka was expected to visit Makhaza earlier this week to defuse
escalating tensions there, but his spokesperson, Vuyelwa Qinga Vika, was
later reported as saying Shiceka would come when his diary permitted.
Chumile Sali, deputy secretary of the ANCYL's Dullah Omar region in Cape
Town, told the Mail & Guardian it was "no use the minister just coming
to the area with the media. What we need is toilets. If he doesn't bring
us toilets, there's no need for him to come to Makhaza."
According to newspaper reports, the violent protests have shaken the
ANC, with senior leader Pallo Jordan allegedly storming out of a Western
Cape task team meeting two weeks ago after being insulted by a youth
Jordan allegedly criticised the league's conduct after its Dullah Omar
region led the move to demolish the corrugated‑iron toilet enclosures
erected by the Cape Town council.
Sali said he was not aware Jordan had visited Cape Town, but as a
Makhaza resident he had experienced at first hand the pain of a
community treated with indignity.
'It's very dangerous'
After two days of violent protest over the corrugated‑iron toilet
enclosures last week, 65 toilets were removed by the council, assisted
by metro police.
"It's hell. We're all going to the toilet in the bush," said Sali. "It's
very dangerous ‑‑ people are scared of being raped or attacked. And it's
a violation of our human rights."
Shiceka has been in communication with Western Cape Premier Helen Zille,
who told a media briefing that she has invited him to inspect Makhaza
with her. No date has been set for the visit.
The protests flared after the city first installed open toilets in
Makhaza, believing it had struck an agreement with the community that
each shack could have a toilet if residents paid for enclosures.
The city intended providing the prescribed national government norm of
one toilet per five households in an informal settlement, but the
community apparently requested a toilet for each household. Some
residents erected enclosures, but others could not afford this, the
The city eventually erected enclosures around all the remaining toilets,
but these have been torn down twice during protests.
Sali said the World Cup would not prevent the Makhaza community from
protesting if it applied for a permit, and that ANC national leaders had
not asked the league in Makhaza to suspend protests until after the
"Our protests has nothing to do with the ANC national. We are elected by
the people," he said. "There's nothing in the Constitution that says we
can't protest during the World Cup if we apply first for a permit."
Sali said he had not spoken to Cape Town mayor Dan Plato, as Plato "is
just a puppet of Helen Zille. He can't take any decision. We don't speak
to tokens," he said. "He was just used to get black votes."
Plato said the council had received a letter from the youth league's
attorneys "and they want to engage with us". He added that the league
had the right to apply for a permit to protest in Makhaza, "but should
be careful not to embarrass the country and the party".
Human Rights Commission report
Meanwhile, the long‑awaited Human Rights Commission (HRC) report on the
toilets saga has still not been released. Last week Sali said the
commission was "useless and incompetent" for taking six months to report
on a league complaint.
The commission immediately called a media conference in Cape Town last
Friday, where it recommended that the city reinstall 51 toilets and
Plato said the city was later told it would be given an extension by the
HRC to reinstall the toilets but was still awaiting its report and an
"If we had to provide 51 residents with concrete enclosed toilets, we
would have to do it for everyone," said Plato.
Toilets 'violate right to dignity'
Sapa 4 June 2010
The City of Cape Town had violated Khayelitsha residents' right to
dignity by not enclosing toilets it installed for them, the SA Human
Rights Commission said on Friday.
Commissioner Pregs Govender was releasing the findings of the
commission's probe into the toilet saga, prompted by a complaint it
received from the ANC Youth League in January.
She told a media briefing in Cape Town that the commission recommended
that the city reinstall the 51 toilets, which were removed this week,
and enclose them with immediate effect.
The enclosures should be brick and mortar, not corrugated iron, she said.
She said the full report on the commission's investigation would be
released next week.
The findings come after several days of violent protests in Khayelitsha
over the toilets, in which 32 people were arrested.
The council said it erected the toilets on the understanding that they
would be enclosed by the members of the community they were intended for.
When the council erected iron and wood enclosures around them last week,
members of the league took the lead in breaking these down. ‑ Sapa
Russell Rd students on the rampage again
Dineo Matomela"4 June 2010
STUDENTS at the Russell Road campus of Port Elizabeth College took to
the streets for the second time in two weeks yesterday in a bid to
remove staff members.
The angry students demanded the removal of principal Joy Grobler and
vice‑principal Monwabisi Mzaidume, claiming they were not responding to
Student representative council secretary Simamkele Ganxa said Grobler
and Mzaidume should be replaced immediately as they had failed to tell
students when their results would be released.
Ganxa said results had been outstanding for the past two years. College
officials were supposed to have fetched the results from the national
head office in Pretoria on Monday, but nothing had materialised.
“Students are angry. They want answers ... we want Grobler to be
replaced by a manager of our choice who will listen to our concerns,”
Grobler was not available to comment yesterday, but registrar Therina
Pienaar said disciplinary action would be taken against the SRC.
“They will be suspended until further notice and they will be
investigated,” she said.
“Today the SRC intimidated staff and students and the police were
called. The staff they intimidated were asked to leave because of safety
“The principal feels it was illegal for them to protest and for them to
ask staff to leave. It’s not within students’ mandate to ask for staff
to be removed.”
Pienaar said the marks had been released. The management did not know
why they wanted the staff members to be removed. A special council
meeting and a parents’ meeting will be called next week.
Two weeks ago, police were called after students locked Grobler and
Mzaidume in an office over a dispute about exam results and money. Some
students who had failed claimed the college should not be charging them
R200 admission per subject for part‑time courses they had to complete in
order to rewrite their exams.
Education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said the students had to lay a
formal complaint against the principal before action could be taken.
Strike at privatised prison
Popcru 9 June 2010
Privatized Prison Management in Limpopo continues to undermine implementation of OSD
A Privatized Prison in Limpopo, Kutama Senthumule, has this morning experienced a wildcat strike by more than three hundred workers who downed-tools in protest against the under-implementation of Occupational Specific Dispensation [OSD], in which the Employer chose unilaterally to use the Salary Level 4 instead of Salary 5.
It is prudent to also indicate that management has continued to undermine rules of engagement and adherence to agreements borne out of negotiations, and that should be condemned. We cannot continue to disrespect workers of this country, and POPCRU calls on management to come to the party and resolve the impasse.
For more information contact:
POPCRU Limpopo Provincial Secretary-Cde Sithole Morris 0834726943
01 Marie Road
Orkney and Grootvlei Aurora workers present a memorandum to Liquidators
Over a thousand workers employed by Aurora Empowerment Systems will tomorrow hand over a memorandum of demands to the Pamodzi/Aurora liquidators. The workers would be led by both the NUM President and General Secretary. The handover will take place at 11h00 tomorrow morning at number 33 Bath Avenue in Rosebank. The workers are demanding payment as well as that the liquidators should move swiftly to make the Aurora debacle history. The workers would be coming from both Orkney and Grootvlei.
Lesiba Seshoka (NUM Spokesman)- 082 803 6719
011 377 2047
SACCAWU Dis-Chem and Game workers to hold mass protest marches on 10 June 2010
SACCAWU 9 June 2010
Dis-Chem workers who have been on strike since 27 May over wages and terms and conditions of employment will be joined by workers from Game and Dion stores in mass protest marches to be held on Thursday 10th of June. While Dis-Chem striking workers will use the strike to further highlight the struggle of SACCAWU against an intransigent management who refuses to negotiate with the Union, the workers of Game and Dion (Massdiscounters) will be protesting against the ongoing unilateral restructuring of the workplace that will have severe downward variation of terms and conditions of employment as well as the planned retrenchment of more than 1 500 workers, many of whom have already been issued with termination notices.
The marches will take place in Durban and Sandton where there is a high concentration of striking members. In the rest of the country workers will continue with pickets at their respective workplaces.
Workers Demand that Dis-Chem must negotiate with SACCAWU on the following demands:
• R3 500-00 minimum wage
• 15% across the board increase
• Conversion of casuals to permanent after three months
• Guaranteed 13th cheque
• Parental rights, medical aid, transport allowance and improvement of other benefits
Game & Dion dispute
SACCAWU members at Game & Dion (Massdiscounters) are preparing for a second major strike in as many years. Last year workers went on strike for wage increases and against unilateral restructuring of terms and conditions of employment. This time workers are preparing to strike to protect their jobs and the ongoing unilateral restructuring that that will adversely affect the terms and conditions of employment of thousands of workers. The company in turn is preparing to retrench as much as 1 500 workers (700 permanent and 800 flexi-time employees), impose ultra flexi-time contracts on workers, introduce a 40 hour rolling week with no overtime for Sundays and compulsory work on Sundays and public holidays.
These are severe attacks on the working class already under stress and still suffering as a result of the recent economic crisis, not of their making, but as a result of how the nature of the capitalist system that is driven to make profits at any cost and without consideration for the consequences for workers.
Such has been the profits of Massmart in the last period that a few years ago the former CEO, Mark Lamberti received a salary of R9.1 million and in 2008 the current CEO received a salary of R6.4 million, this is more than two hundred time the salary of the average wage of Massmart employees. Since the year 2000 Massmart sales have more than doubled from R20 billion to a more than R43 billion in 2009. Even in the period of global recession, Massamrt still increased its sales by more than R10 billion between 2007 and 2009. Clearly the company cannot not plead poverty, thus the reasons for this restructuring and retrenchments are squarely aimed at further increasing their profit rates through the intensification of the rate of exploitation of workers. While the current round of restructuring and retrenchments is taking place at Game and Dion Wired ( Massdiscounters) it will soon spread to other divisions of the group.
While Massdiscounters are planning the retrenchment of 1 500 workers they at the same time are planning to expand their operations, with 20 new stores over the next two years. These facts clearly demonstrate that the company is doing well financially.
In the chairman's review for 2009, Lamberti, noted that last year Massmart experienced their first protracted industrial action and commented as follows; he list the transition from former President Thabo Mbeki to President Zuma as one of the significant development that covered the reporting period. He then goes on to state that this transition, “increased the stridency of populist rhetoric and the vigour of socio-economic demands, both indicative of an open democracy. Service delivery rioters, striking workers, obstructive taxi owners and officious youth leaders all contributed to the first ever protracted dispute between certain Massmart divisions and organised labour.” This is an indication of how out of touch bosses are with the realities of the working class. How convenient to forget to mention that the workers had to resort to strike action to increase their minimum wage to a paltry R2 700 per month, how convenient to forget that workers resorted to strike action for decent work and greater job security when they demanded the conversion of part-time employees to full-time, how convenient to forget that they plan to open 20 new Massdicounters stores in the next two years while at the same time preparing to retrench 1 500 workers now. Of course Mr. Lamberti was talking to shareholders and here the only thing that matters is the bottom line, returns on investment, PROFIT!
And yes, there is the issue of speculation that the worst employer in the world, Wal-Mart, is interested in taking over Massmart. The experience of the labour movement globally, when it comes to the expansion of Wal-Mart is; to make your business attractive to Wal-Mart you weaken if not smash the unions, you increase the vulnerability of workers, you erode job security, you reduce your staff complement and you drive down wages. And this is exactly what we see at Massmart. However even if they do not intend selling out to Wal-Mart as their denials go, they are introducing Wal-Mart philosophy in the workplace at an astonishingly rapid rate with a typical Wal-mart aggression towards organised labour. In any event, with 57% of investors being none South African, mainly Europe and US investors, it is not difficult to see why the Wal-Mart format is so attractive to Massmart and why the rumours of a possible Wal-Mart buy-out should be taken serious.
Thus for SACCAWU this is not merely a Massdiscounters struggle, but a Massmart issue and we will mobilise all our members across the Group to take up joint struggles against this recent restructuring and retrenchments. For us, this new turn of restructuring and retrenchments as well as the high-handed and arrogant manner with which the company conducted itself during a protracted period of negotiations is nothing short of Union bashing. The retrenchments of workers and the escorting of workers off the premises by police while the dispute has not been resolved are all indications of this. The failure to train shofloor staff to prepare them for the new technology, the compulsion to sign new employment contracts and re-interviews of employees for the same posts they currently hold and many have held for many years and the consequent threat of down variation of terms and conditions of employment all point to this attacks on the Union. And of course the rolling 40 hour week without overtime for Sundays and compulsory work on Sundays and public holidays as normal days at normal rates, all this point to the intensification of the exploitation of workers. No trade union worthy of its name can accept this, and SACCAWU will fight to the bitter end to defend our members against this onslaught.
The issues at Game & Dion Wired (Massdiscounters)
• Retrenchment of 1500 workers, 700 permanent and 800 flexi-time employees.
• The imposition of ultra-flexi time contracts;
• 40 hour rolling week with Sundays as normal time
• Compressed working week without overtime.
• Sunday and Public holidays compulsory work.
• All those not faced with retrenchment to reapply for their positions under new terms of employment as outlined above.
• All re-applications to be considered after an interview which will include psychometric testing, which upon failing workers will be demoted.
• All those that will remain in employment will be given new job titles, job descriptions and for many new salary rates.
• The introduction of new Green Light technology that requires tertiary vocational training and the refusal by the company to offer any training to staff except for management.
In the context of the current economic climate, high levels of unemployment and the national consensus to cushion the working class and poor from the severest effects of the economic crisis, Massdiscounters shows no regard for the consequences of their plans on an already stressed working class.
While there has been a clamour to call on workers not to strike during the World Cup Competition, it is clear that bosses are hoping to use the same period to push through such draconian measures as planned by Massdiscounters. They hope to turn public opinion against striking workers while ruthlessly attacking workers standard of living. We want to state it clearly that is the bosses that are using the World Cup competition to drive down workers terms and conditions of employment. However, we will not be admitted nor compromise workers rights because of the World Cup. We call on the community to support workers in their struggles against these attacks.
In the light of the above and failure to make progress in negotiations with the company, SACCAWU deadlocked and withdrew from negotiations. The company in turn responded by issuing notices of termination of services to about 200 workers at the warehouses and numerous stores. These notices were accompanied by the police to enforce and escort workers off the premises.
It is clear that the company is targeting the strongholds of the SACCAWU, our shopstewards and active union members. This is not simply a dispute over restructuring but blatant union-bashing.
The workers at a National Shopstewards Council resolved to engage in disciplined industrial action to confront this onslaught by the bosses.
Head office 0114038333
Thabo Mahlangu 0823365682
Lee Modiga 0823365327
Mike Abrahams 0716288474
Mduduzi Mbongwe 0823365146
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