5 – No guarantee of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Pakistan

The ITUC affiliates in Pakistan are the All Pakistan Trade Union Congress (APTUC) and the Pakistan Workers’ Federation (PWF).

In practice

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Power loom workers denied right to negotiate18-09-2015

Two and a half months after an agreement was signed assuring power loom workers in Faisalabad that negotiations on wages and workers rights would begin, not a single meeting had been held. The Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) staged a long march on 18 September 2015 to highlight their grievances, and called it off after assurances had been given that their issues would be addressed. By December, the factory owners had still not consented to a meeting. The only penalties imposed on the employers by the district authorities were small fines.

Workers’ representatives dismissed for demanding rights28-11-2015

Eighty-eight workers of the Denim Clothing Company (DCC) — a factory that manufactures clothes for international brands such as H&M and Primark — were sacked in the last week of November 2015 for demanding their rights.
The workers had no social security, no insurance, no medical facilities and low salaries that came on no specific date, and decided to take up their concerns before the management. On 26 November, the workers held a meeting at which they chose five representatives to hold talks with the management. At noon, the team went to the manager’s chamber. They never returned to their stations. They had been fired on the spot.
In solidarity, 83 of their colleagues went to management to demand the reinstatement of their five representatives. They were also dismissed on the spot.

Shell responds to organising by deploying troops16-06-2015

Multinational oil giant Shell has consistently sought to prevent employees in Pakistan from organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. . The workers from Shell Pakistan’s Lubricant oil blending plant in Keamari, Karachi, first attempted to register their Insaf Shell Pakistan Workers Union in 2013. Shell appealed against the registration on grounds that the 300 contract workers were not officially Shell employees.
However with the support of the Pakistan Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine, and General Workers’ Union (PCEM) the 300 workers were granted permanent contracts, and on 16 July 2015 Pakistan’s trade union registrar dismissed the management’s appeal and allowed the registration of the union to go ahead.
Instead of recognising the new union and bargaining a new collective agreement, Shell Pakistan’s management filed another appeal before the national trade union registrar in Islamabad to stop a workplace union vote proceeding. This second appeal was also dismissed, on 30 October.
Rather than allow the vote to go ahead, Shell Pakistan deployed paramilitary rangers at the plant on 17 November. The company then appointed 100 new workers through contractors and outsourced the packaging work of lubricant oil.

Disciplinary action against union leaders15-08-2015

Management at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) decided to take strict action in August 2015 against the 18 employees who had been leading protests against a decision to change the status of the Institute. A bill passed in 2013 had given the institute university status and had changed the status of the employees from civil servants to private sector workers.
The Chairman of the Pims United Action Committee, Mohammad Riaz Gujar, said they were protesting on behalf of both workers and patients. Pims had been a welfare hospital but had become an autonomous body, and was steadily increasing its fees. The hospital authorities were threatening dismissal.

National database denies union rights to thousands of workers30-04-2015

The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) — a department of the Interior Ministry — marked Labour Day by denying its nearly 17,000 workers their fundamental right to form a union. NADRA refused to recognise the All Pakistan NADRA Employee’s Union (APNEU), which it considered illegal and unofficial, stating that any activity through this platform was ‘liable to be prosecuted as per law’.
On 30 April NADRA employees protested in Karachi to demand union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. . The response of management was to issue a circular which said, “All NADRA employees fall under Essential Services essential services Services the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population. Can include the hospital sector, electricity and water supply services, and air traffic control. Strikes can be restricted or even prohibited in essential services.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
Group. Under Article 7-A of Pakistan Essential Services essential services Services the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population. Can include the hospital sector, electricity and water supply services, and air traffic control. Strikes can be restricted or even prohibited in essential services.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
(Maintenance) Act 1952, NADRA employees are prohibited to participate in any activity through the platform of labour union under the Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Act.” Any violation would be liable to imprisonment for up to one year including a fine.
The unofficial union’s general secretary, Salman Zuberi, said they had succeeded in registering the NADRA employees union through the National Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Commission (NIRC), but NADRA management had appealed to the Islamabad High Court to rule against it and the matter was pending in court.
In the ongoing dispute between the workers and management, another leader of NADRA resigned from his post over the issue. The official had been playing the role of a mediator between the workers and management.

Union membership at record low30-04-2015

According to a report titled ‘Status of Labour Rights in Pakistan: 2014’ published by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) on 30 April 2015, only one per cent of Pakistan’s labour force is unionised. Other organisations give alternative statistics, but all show that the level of union membership is extremely low. During a May Day rally the General Secretary of the All Pakistan Trade Unions Federation (APTUF) Aima Mehmood claimed five per cent of workers in the nation were unionised while the figure for women stood one per cent. Some put the figure at around two per cent.

Piler, the APTUF and others blame the low level of unionisation on weak law enforcement and the failure to respect ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
standards. The prevalence of the informal sector has a major impact. Gul Rehman, the president of the Workers Right Movement, speaking at a rally on 7 October 2015 to mark the World Day for Decent Work, said that more than 75 per cent of the labour force in Pakistan was working in informal sector where the contract system and involvement of third party contractors had deprived them of their basic rights. The continued existence of bonded labour also has an influence, as does the attitude of employers who simply ignore applications for union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. .

Labour activists attacked01-04-2014

In April 2014, two labour rights activities were attacked on the edge of Lahore, the capital of Punjab. They were campaigning for the rights of bonded labourers, many of which work in brick kilns in the provinces of Punjab (Pakistan’s wealthiest province) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The attack was blamed on the owner of a brick kiln.

Pakistan is ranked third in the world for the prevalence of slavery (behind Haiti and Mauritania) and for the presence of slavery in absolute terms (behind India and China). According to the UN, there were more than two million workers in bonded labour in Pakistan as at May 2014.

“There is not even a single kiln in Lahore and its suburbs which is not owned by the politicians who are sitting in corridors of power, including federal and provincial assemblies,” said Ibn Abdur Rehman, a prominent human-rights activist and president of the National Coalition Against Bonded Labor.

Workers protest against suspension of 4 union leaders 13-05-2014

Hundreds of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) workers held protest demonstrations in districts across Pakistan on 13 May 2014 to protest against the suspension of four leaders of the Hydroelectric Union Pakistan.

The president, the general secretary and 2 senior officers of the Muzaffargarh Thermal Power Station Hydroelectric Union were suspended on 12 May 2014 by the power station’s chief executive. Their suspension followed a protest against the planned privatisation of the power station. The protest was held on 12 May to coincide with a visit by the Minister of Water and Power.

The protestors gathered around the minister’s convoy and chanted slogans.

Muzaffargarh Thermal Power Station chief engineer Khalid Alvi was suspended and security chief major (r) Omar Malik sacked. Muzaffargarh Thermal Power Station chief executive Shoaib Rashid was also given a show-cause notice.

Hydroelectric Union members in several districts held demonstrations to protest against the decision to suspend their leaders.

Wapda Hydroelectric Union president Khursheed Khan said, “If the union leaders are not reinstated in the next 24 hours, we will suspend electricity supply to the heavily populated areas of south Punjab.” He said protests will be held in major districts and divisional head offices of power generating companies in the region.

There were as many as 133 security guards on duty when members of the Hydroelectric Union Muzaffargarh unit “breached” security and surrounded the minister’s vehicle.

Abid Sher Ali told The Express Tribune that the Muzaffargarh Thermal Power Station had become a hub of furnace oil and electricity theft. “We will not let the mafia sabotage Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to end the energy crisis in the country,” he said.

Eighteen protesting teachers beaten and arrested 28-06-2014

On 28 June 2014, the Khairpur Police lead a baton charge against protesting teachers, and then arrested at least 18 of them, when they tried to stage a sit-in in front of the CM’s house, Khairpur.

The teachers had marched through the streets of Khairpur to the CM’s house protesting the fact that they had not been issued with their appointment letters, despite having successfully passed the NTS test.

The victims demand the immediate release of their colleagues and appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take a suo moto notice of the police torture and violence.

Collective bargaining in private sector at risk from outsourcing01-07-2014

July 2014: Trade unions have expressed concern about the rising practice in private sector management of hiring new workers as contractors or through labour hire companies. They have highlighted the way in which this has led to a deteriorating collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
position of private sector workers.

Workers engaged on a contract basis or through a third party are not entitled to facilities and other benefits such as health and group insurance.

This is of particular concern to the trade unions in light of the recent privatisation of former government sectors, such as banks and insurance companies. As a result, trade union representation in these industries has been wiped out.

Ship-breaking workers demand right to form union07-10-2014

On 7 October 2014, workers at the Gaddani ship-breaking yard protested, demanding to be allowed to form trade unions. They also demanded job insurance, old-age benefits, social security and an increase of the minimum wage to Rs20,000.

The Gaddani ship-breaking yard is considered one of the cruellest workplaces in Pakistan, where workers are counted like cattle and paid by the hour at the end of each 12-hour shift.

Eight workers murdered21-10-2014

On 21 October 2014, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) protested outside the Karachi Press Club to condemn the murder of eight labourers in Balochistan and an attempt to harass veteran social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi.

The protest was attended by industrial workers, political and social activists as well as students.

NTUF Sindh president Gul Rahman said: “The brutal murder of the labourers was an unpardonable act. The working class always stood for the democratic rights of oppressed nationalities and they had always resisted state terrorism in all its forms.”

Other speakers said attacks on labourers on the basis of race or sect had essentially been aimed at creating fissures in the working class movement and strengthening regressive forces. The speakers demanded security to be provided to political and nationalist forces of Balochistan and asked to quell attempts creating a ridge between the working class and nationalist forces in the province. They also demanded a compensation of Rs1 million to the families of the eight slain labourers and Rs500,000 for the injured.

Condemning the robbery at Edhi Home, the speakers said that Abdul sattar Edhi had served humanity irrespective of caste, creed, religion and ethnicity. If a personality like Edhi was not spared, then everybody else in the country was unsafe, they believed.

Six strikers arrested at Karachi Harbour14-11-2014
Majority of workers excluded from joining trade union01-09-2014

According to the Chief Executive of PILER (Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research) Karamat Ali, less than one per cent of workers in Pakistan are registered with a trade union due to the limited right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
under the Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Act 1969. “This deprived many workers of the right of unionisation, and with later amendments, more and more were excluded from this right,” he told a conference in September 2014. Ali also emphasised the need to struggle for protecting unions and giving the security of at least minimum wages to the workers, calling for the formation of a national union.

At the same conference, retired Justice Rashee A Rizvi alleged that political parties had failed to play their role in developing trade unions. He said that they had established their wings in existing trade unions, but never attempted to make unions functional in the factories.

Women workers, almost all of whom are employed on contract in the informal sector, are placed at particular risk of being deprived of their right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
, as they fell outside the scope of the laws, lacked awareness of the rights they have and did not have their rights enforced by the authorities.

In October 2014, the home-based Women Workers Federation held a press conference at which which the general secretary of the Federation, Zehra Khan, reported that more than 12 million home-based workers are deprived of their fundamental rights in Pakistan.

“In view of the changing conditions, there should be a new definition of workers which includes workers do not just work at factories or industries. This will include home-based workers too,” Khan said.

Executive Director of Working Women Organisation Aima Mehmood reported that female labourers had less than one percent membership of trade unions. Mehmood said only five to six women had leadership positions in executive bodies of the unions while the rest were unable to benefit from direct access to the administration. “Until and unless we start prioritising the interests of the people, nothing can be achieved.”

The general secretary of Working Women Union Shaheena Kausar and president of Pakistan Workers Confederation Rubina Jamil said labour inspectors were not gender-sensitised and the system of prior notification advantaged employers instead of workers. Kausar said her organisation aimed to uplift the female workers by organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. them and providing them with collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
skills. Still, Kausar notes that Pakistan has not been successful in implementing the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Convention on equal wage for men and women with men being paid more for the same amount of work.

On 28 February 2015, the deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation, Nasir Mansoor, reported that around 98 per cent of Pakistan’s total labour force is not allowed to form their own trade union. He further stated that about 95 per cent of workers are without any social security.

Mansoor said: “Pakistan is a signatory of international labour conventions since its inception yet labourers await their due rights.”

The restrictions on the right to establish and join a trade union arise from the fact that these workers are not recognised or covered by the labour laws, because of the informal or insecure nature of their work.

Protesting prison wardens baton charged, tear gassed and arrested by police17-02-2015

On 17 February 2015, police used batons and tear gas to disperse the employees of the prison department, who were protesting outside the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly against their sacking a day earlier. The employees kept the Khyber Road blocked for several hours to protest their removal from service. Police also arrested several demonstrators.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has cancelled the appointment of 796 warders to the provincial prisons after criticism in the assembly over the alleged irregularities in recruitments by the provincial legislators belonging to the ruling PTI.

The protesters said they were appointed on 22 January 2015, but dismissed by the government and terminated on 16 February due to internal differences with the PTI MPAs.

When the employees refused to open road until assurance of reinstatement, police charged at them with batons and tear gas to disperse them. However, the protesters also retaliated by pelting stones on police officials. During the skirmish, a number of workers were injured.

Protesting police baton charged19-03-2015

On 19 March 2015, dozens of under-training Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASIs) and head constables of the Sindh Police were subjected to baton charge and arrests after they protested outside the Central Police Office on II Chundrigar Road to demand payment of salaries pending for the past few months.

The officials, who had just completed seven-month-long training at the Police Training Centre (PTC) Saeedabad, claimed they had not been paid during this time and were now being ordered to report to the PTC Razzaqabad for elite courses. Irked at not being paid in more than half the year, the under-training ASIs and head constables resorted to demonstrating outside the Central Police Office causing a traffic jam on the city’s busiest street.

“We have been in training for the past seven months without salaries and despite that, between three and four thousand rupees are extorted from us every month as canteen charges,” said ASI Taufiq. “Now that we have completed the course, we are being asked to report to Razzaqabad for elite training where they will extort more money from us.”

Other protesting police officials said they were being sent on pointless training sessions by higher officials to avoid paying their salaries.

As the demonstration progressed, four of the leading protesters were invited inside by the DIG Administration for negotiations. But when he failed to satisfy the representatives of protesting police officials, the demonstrators riled up and began chanting slogans.

When they failed to peacefully disperse the unpaid policemen, personnel of the city division police led by City SP Aftab Nizamani baton-charged them while around 20 of them were also taken into custody and shifted to different police stations. The city police personnel dragged the protesters into their vehicles, tearing their clothes, as the scuffle continued outside the main police office.

Police intervention in strike and refusal to bargain31-03-2013
Anti-union discrimination30-04-2013

In April 2013, management of Kraft Foods Pakistan locked out members of the Cadbury Pakistan Progressive Employees Union and attacked union leaders when negotiation over wages, benefits and job security reached a deadlock. Disciplinary action against union leader Muhammad Saleem was initiated in order to dismiss him, in violation of a valid collective agreement.

Dismissal for strike action18-02-2013

More than 400 young doctors who had participated in a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to protest about criminal cases lodged against their colleagues in the wake of the Gujranwala DHQ hospital incident were dismissed. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had promised to withdraw the actions against the young doctors at a meeting with representatives of the Young Doctors Association Punjab at his Model Town residence on 18 February 2013. However, Jinnah Hospital refused to reinstate 200 doctors — 55 Medical Officers, postgraduate trainees and house officers — despite written orders from the health authorities.

Mining company refuses to recognise union30-04-2013

The Duddar Mineral Development Company Labour Union was registered on 23 September 2012. As per legal procedure, the union submitted its “Charter of Demands” to the management of MMC Duddar Mine for negotiation. However, management refuses to recognise the representative and lawful character of the union. Instead union members and leaders have been harassed. When the mine workers instigated a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, following the legal procedure, they secured a pay rise and improved working hours. However, management still refuses to recognise the union as the workers’ representative.

Continued danger to journalists30-11-2010

Six journalists were killed in Pakistan during the first seven months of the year. Mohammad Rafique Baloch, a senior journalist and vice-president of the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) was on his way to the Sindh High Court, in Karachi on March when he was kidnapped, beaten and later released. In May, senior journalist Nasrullah Afridi and member of the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) was murdered in Peshawar. Provincial authorities had failed to provide him with security despite being aware of threats to his life. In May, the body of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was found. Reports suggest that Shahzad was detained by members of the intelligence arm of the Pakistan military, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Shahzad had reported receiving threats from ISI members.

Violence, arrests in demonstrations and strikes30-11-2010

Strikes are often broken up by police and used by employers to justify dismissals. Union leaders are often arrested. Marches and protests also occur regularly despite the repercussions.

On 11 January, police and paramilitaries attacked a peaceful protest organised by workers Karachi Airport, injuring many and arresting union leaders.

Two were injured when police used batons and teargas to stop low-paid contract employees of provincial education department in Karachi on 18 February. At least 12 were arrested.

In March, batons and tear-gas were used against a demonstration by female health workers in Sindh province. Around 36 of the protestors were said to have been arrested.

At least eight doctors were injured and 50 arrested during a demonstration in Quetta on 14 June.

In July, extra troops were deployed to disperse mass protests in Karachi. At least 65 people were killed.

Anti-union discrimination30-11-2010

Employers often strongly resist the unionisation of their employees, resorting to intimidation, dismissal and blacklisting. Managers at the Reko Diq project of Tethyan Copper Co. suspended 12 union activists in April, while the General Secretary of the Syngenta Employees Union Pakistan was sacked on 22 December.

Strikes: illegal and dangerous31-12-2010

The strikes that do occur are, given the complications attached to organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, usually illegal and short. They are often broken up by police and used by employers to justify dismissals. Union leaders are often arrested. Marches and protests also occur regularly despite the repercussions.

For example in September, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilots from the Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (PALPA) began a work-to-rule work-to-rule A form of industrial action whereby the workers strictly adhere to all laws, rules and principles that apply to their work, effecting a slowdown. action as part of a demand to ensure that safety measures were adhered to and that overwork was reduced. The government then invoked the Essential Services essential services Services the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population. Can include the hospital sector, electricity and water supply services, and air traffic control. Strikes can be restricted or even prohibited in essential services.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
Maintenance Act 1958, often used to intimidate workers and to prevent industrial action industrial action Any form of action taken by a group of workers, a union or an employer during an industrial dispute to gain concessions from the other party, e.g. a strike, go-slow or an overtime ban, or a lockout on the part of the employer. in the name of ensuring that essential services essential services Services the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population. Can include the hospital sector, electricity and water supply services, and air traffic control. Strikes can be restricted or even prohibited in essential services.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
are maintained. One month later, on 25 October, PIA management dismissed two senior pilots, one of whom was previously the union’s joint secretary, reportedly without any notice or hearing for their part in the action.

Employers circumvent legislation31-12-2010

Employers often strongly resist the unionisation of their employees, with management resorting to intimidation, dismissal and blacklisting. If an employer is opposed to the formation of a union, the procedure for union registration and the appeals process can take many years. Sometimes the employers artificially promote workers to managerial status, usually without the concomitant salary increase, so that they no longer qualify for union membership. The economic crisis resulted in an increasing numbers of businesses ignoring the law with the sometimes overt support of the authorities. This has led to reduced wages and benefits as well as weaker rights, since workers are more afraid to claim their rights in case they lose their jobs.

Anti-union discrimination in banks30-11-2009

In recent years, hundreds of trade union leaders have been dismissed under the terms of the Banking Companies (Amendment) Act, 1997. In 2009 in an effort to lift the restrictions on trade union activities in banks, Deputy Secretary General of the Pakistan Peoples Party filed a private members bill against the legislation. In addition, the Pakistan Workers’ Federation has reported reprisals against trade unionists by the National Bank of Pakistan while in November 2009, Imran Usman, a member of the Muslim Commercial Bank Staff Union, was reportedly abducted for his union activities.

Strikes: illegal and dangerous30-11-2009

The strikes that do occur are, given the complications attached to organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, usually illegal and short. They are often broken up by police and used by employers to justify dismissals. Marches and protests do occur regularly despite the repercussions. Some are successful. For example the demonstration by union workers at the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) led finally to management agreeing small increases to the salary grades for line workers in May 2009. Workers at the Wapda Hydro Electric Central Labour Union protested in July after linesmen’s families were not compensated after workers were killed at the workplace in the escalating political violence. Other strikes, however, lead directly and quickly to violence and the arrest of union leaders.

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