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Business NZ runs bogus poll

Written By: - Date published: 8:18 am, September 12th, 2018 - 65 comments
Categories: Dr Deborah Russell, Economy, employment, health and safety, helen clark, labour, nz first, Shane Jones, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

The next time you are subject to news that business confidence is declining question the validity of the survey. This is the only response possible after news that Business NZ has run a faulty poll.

From John Anthony at Stuff:

A business confidence survey conducted by lobby group BusinessNZ has been criticised for asking a question which forced chief executives to answer negatively about the Government’s employment law reform.

The annual “mood of the boardroom” survey, commissioned by the New Zealand Herald, and conducted by BusinessNZ and the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), is described as a key barometer of business sentiment.

It asks more than 500 business owners how they feel the Government is performing on a range of issues, and has been running since 2005.

This year’s survey included a question which asked “Are you concerned by any of the proposed changes to employment law?”.

Respondents were asked to tick any of the six concerns listed ranging from “unions may enter workplace without notification”, to “businesses with more than 20 employees not allowed 90-day trials”.

There was no “none of the above” or “other” options and respondents were not allowed move onto the next question without ticking at least one box.

What better way to increase hostility to the Government’s very modest law reforms, require those taking part in the poll to have to choose a negative option. Kim Jon Un would be proud of such a technique.

Business NZ has since admitted that a mistake was made but you have to wonder at the credibility of opinion news coming from that organisation.

And Business NZ has threatened to complain to the International Labour Organisation.

How embarrassing. The proposed changes are pretty modest and only return some rights that were taken away from union members by the last Government. What is the bet that no complaint actually occurs, or if one is made it is dismissed.

Business NZ must live in a bubble. New Zealand’s laws and the proposed changes are pretty modest.

And the repercussions of a weakened trade union movement are clear. Like Sistema, a South Auckland Plastics Firm that pays barely above minimum wages and requires its full time workers to work 60 hours a week on minimum wage without overtime pay.  And has “part time” workers who are contracted to work 40 hours a week. And discriminates against Union members.

From Indira Stewart at Radio New Zealand:

Many staff and their union have accused the company of exploiting vulnerable migrant workers and they’re speaking out about their desperate need for better pay and working conditions.

While full-time production staff, who make Sistema’s plastic containers, are required to work 60 hours a week, according to Ms Latu’s contract, part-time workers are required to work 40 hours in a normal working week.

Both Ms Latu and her co-worker Jennifer Talitiga Finau are frustrated over their current working conditions.

Jennifer Talitiga Finau is frustrated over her current working conditions.

Ms Finau has worked full-time for Sistema for almost 14 years – and also receives $17 an hour.

“I think that for most of us it’s [the] long hours. I really want to [have] less hours and more pay. Because we need to be with our family,” Ms Finau said.

They were joined by about a 100 frustrated workers and supporters who attended a recent meeting about the stalled pay talks with Sistema.

The workers said after nine months of negotiations for better wages and an end to their 12 hour days, the company still haven’t budged.

Ms Latu claims the company penalises workers who are part of the union.

“The thing is they pay the non – [union] members different from the union members. So as a team leader, I’m on $17 and the non-union ones are on $18.50,” Ms Latu said.

“It’s not fair because we do the same amount of work every night. We don’t know why they’re getting more than we are,” she said.

“We deserve to be treated equally. We are not treated equally at Sistema.”

The need for change should be pretty evident.  But New Zealand First is showing troubling signs of weakness:

From Henry Cooke at Stuff:

NZ First leader Winston Peters will not guarantee his party’s support for the Government’s controversial industrial relations bill, saying it is still a “work-in-progress”.

Peters did not directly threaten to withdraw his party’s support for the bill, but signalled there was still room for negotiation between the Labour and NZ First on it.

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill is Labour’s flagship employment bill, and has drawn a sustained campaign of criticism from business groups.

The bill would end the 90-day trial for all large businesses, bring back legislated real and meal breaks, allow greater union access to workplaces, and force employers to accept multi-employer collective agreements (MECAs) if their employees wanted them.

Labour MPs are adamant the legislation basically returns industrial policy to where it was prior to the last National government’s changes.

On the other hand, National MPs and business groups have said it would take New Zealand back to the 1970s.

It is a shame that rather than call out National’s propaganda the media is presenting both sides of the debate as if both views are valid.  The changes will not return New Zealand to the Industrial Relations system that existed in the 1970s.  We had compulsory unionism back then FFS.

But it is troubling that New Zealand First is showing signs of weakness.  Again from Henry Cooke:

NZ First MP Tracey Martin said her caucus had discussed the bill but to the best of her knowledge they were still supporting it, as they had at first reading.

In an interview with TVNZ in early August, NZ First MP Shane Jones said “the big end and the small end of town” were constantly lobbying him to change the bill.

Jones said the party would listen to the submissions, but would still support it. He didn’t rule out pushing for more changes.

The party already won a concession on the bill before its first reading, with 90 day trials remaining in place for smaller employers.

Makes you wonder how Shane Jones ever made it into the Labour Party.

65 comments on “Business NZ runs bogus poll”

  1. mac1 1

    Should Business NZ have run a question like this?

    “Are you happy with any of the following effects caused by changes in employment law?
    1. Happier employees able to afford to live decently .
    2. Safer, healthier work places.
    3. Better paid and cared for employees meaning healthier, more committed and well-fed workforce.
    4. Corollaries such as less costs as happier workers are more careful.
    5. Knowing that cheating, exploiting, sociopathic employers will not gain an advantage over your ethically managed business
    6. Knowing that as a caring employer you can hold your head high as a decent human being.
    7. None of the above.
    8. Other. List here.

    • greywarshark 1.1

      I do not understand your point mac1. Could you explain what you are thinking?

      • mac1 1.1.1

        The point is they didn’t ask a question like that.

        If they had, then employers like Sistema might have changed their practice.

        The trick is first to ask the right question.

        Right?

        • McFlock 1.1.1.1

          No, then you just get people parroting one of the list of “pro” answers you construct and one of a list of “con” answers you construct.

          What if your list of answers misses out a massive option that you didn’t predetermine? So you need an “other” option, and preferably a space for respondents to tell you what you missed.

          And what if respondents see nothing pro or con? You need a “no worries” option.

          And also, what if the business doesn’t employ anyone? Maybe an “N/A” button wouldn’t go amiss.

          • Dennis Frank 1.1.1.1.1

            You seem to be presuming BusinessNZ were fishing for real opinions whereas the thing seemed to be designed to shoe-horn respondents into a desired conceptual frame. When people reacted with criticism they acknowledged they got it wrong. Ideology, then honesty.

            • McFlock 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Possibly.

              But with 500 business owners answering a Business NZ survey (was it sent to a randomised sample of company directors, or just to BNZ members anyway?), you shouldn’t need to rig the survey to get a right-leaning result.

          • mac1 1.1.1.1.2

            McFlock, my old Celtic mate, you and I are in agreement on this. And greywarshark, as well, this is my explanation to you.

            My original post is a wee bit of an ironic piss-take, as it demands positive answers as opposed to the negative questioning complained of, but in the first six options used exactly the same flawed technique.

            My post was designed to point out: 1. why from a worker’s perspective changes to employment law are a boon; 2. what a good employer might just see in these changes; and 3. how asking a different question might open up the responder’s mind to a different point of view from their own.

            The reference about ‘the trick is too ask the right question’ pertains to a technique of enquiry which philosophers I believe use. The trick is to ask the right question in order to get an answer which opens up the subject, rather than the closed question designed to get a predetermined answer as Business NZ demonstrated.

            Box ticking is limited as a way of eliciting beliefs held.

            I am also aware that ‘explaining is losing’ but what have we to lose but our chains? What seemed clear to me this morning obviously was too obtusely written.

  2. Ad 2

    New Zealand First may well support the bill as a concept but I betcha Jones will push them to cross the floor on some of the amendments that National will put up.

    ……. unless of course Ardern shows muscle in Cabinet and puts the entire draft bill to Cabinet and requires unanimity before it goes to another reading.

    Far better to do this bills’ negotiations behind closed doors than find that Winston Peters is the actual Prime Minister.

    • Dennis Frank 2.1

      Call their bluff, you reckon? Doubt she’s confident enough with Labour’s track record currently to do that! More likely she will push the consensus process. Call a meeting of all relevant ministers to table the key points for revising the Labour draft bill that have emerged enough to be articulated by business organisations and Nats.

      Rather than waste time in preliminary discussion, she ought to start with a straw poll on each key point, asking whoever thinks it is a likely coalition-breaker to raise their hands. Any hands raised gets that key point short-listed for discussion following. Get the note-taker to do a hand count.

      Once the short-list is completed, prioritise those key points starting with the one that got most hands raised. Proceed to discussing what’s wrong with the Labour draft in respect of that key point. Time spent speaking their stance to be no more than two minutes per person. Tell any minister still talking when the bell rings that they are now demonstrating borderline ministerial competence and have become a candidate for replacement, but will be given a chance to do better on the next topic…

  3. Ankerrawshark 3

    Dirty rotten scoundrels.

    This should front page/breaking news.

    What is the heralds role in this?

  4. Michelle 4

    Sistema are making millions why cant they stop being bloody greedy and pass some of the benefits of their business onto their workers. I will not be buying any Sistema until I know these people are going to be paid fairly.

    • the other pat 4.1

      tho i agree with the sentiment not buying may put jobs at risk……however if the common folk decided to go and picket Sistema {non employees} and swamp them with e mails social media etc we might be able to force some movement but in saying that its bloody hard to get folks to give a shit about anyone else these days but worth a crack eh!

      • greywarshark 4.1.1

        The use of these plastic containers could be limited nu careful choice and reuse of processed goods from the supermarket; some jams have screw top type lid and can be excellent for leftovers or separating the kids stuff in the frig.

        If people shout themselves a Chinese takeaway that uses the microwave friendly clear plastic contrainers they are very useful. If a friend is going to an op shop see if they have a pile of them with lids for $2 the lot (Note they are not as robust as the brand containers, being easily cut or cracked when dropped).

        Sistema’s output could be halved and stuff going to landfill would also halved if
        suitable takeaway packs were reused.

    • Mr Nobody 4.2

      So what minimum dollar amount would Sistema need to pay staff for it to be “fair”i your mind?

      • BM 4.2.1

        According to the union the “living wage”.

        If I was Sistema I’d be looking at phasing out the staff and automating the production line as much as possible.

        • Mr Nobody 4.2.1.1

          That is a reality that many workers (both high and low wages) face in the near future however in the meantime if workers are unhappy with their wages then it must be remembered that they are neither slaves or serfs and have the option of seeking employment elsewhere and if as a society we are saying that the minimum wage is insufficient for people to live on then the Government should increase the minimum wage to a level which is sufficient for people to live on.

        • appleboy 4.2.1.2

          Typical BM reply – you go away , you come back and it’s just the same old Tory/Wind Up comments –

          yeah great idea “BM” (bet that stands for Big Man) ….let’s make as many people as possible redundant and bring in automation because….you don’t give a F**& about anyone but yourself. Plain and simple as ever. At least you are honest with your ugly world view.

      • greywarshark 4.2.2

        Good name for our trolls ‘The Invisible Wo/man or TIWM). ‘Mr Nobody’ is I feel more aimed at the writer’s opinion of commenters’ standing from his point of view.

        • Mr Nobody 4.2.2.1

          I’m not sure what part of my comment you feel is trolling and apologise that my handle is somehow in appropriate. Can you please advise what sort of handle is appropriate.

          Should I follow the like yourself>? If so would BrownRapeDog be acceptable or perhaps YellowThroatSlitMonkey?

  5. BM 5

    Business NZ must live in a bubble. New Zealand’s laws and the proposed changes are pretty modest.

    NZ First leader Winston Peters will not guarantee his party’s support for the Government’s controversial industrial relations bill

    Are the changes controversial or modest?

    • Andre 5.1

      Irrational fuckwits can quite happily make a big controversy out of something that is pretty modest by any objective reckoning.

      • BM 5.1.1

        You reckon PM Peters is an irrational fuckwit?

        Personally, the $20 minimum wage and the back to the 1970’s approach to industrial relations is rather controversial and I can see why business may be dropping their lip.

        If I employed people I’d seriously start looking at employer numbers and working out who I’d let go or if it’s feasible see what I could automate.

        • Andre 5.1.1.1

          Peters isn’t the one turning it into a controversy. So far he’s just signaled there are bits of the bill he’d like to be different.

        • Ankerrawshark 5.1.1.2

          Yes but we don’t know if business are dropping their lip, because the survey was dishonest

          • BM 5.1.1.2.1

            From business owners, I’ve talked to they’re not happy about what’s being proposed.

            Truth is, having staff can be really hard work, what Labour is proposing is going to make it so much worse.

            What we’re going to end up with is a situation where business especially smaller business just say “Fuck this shit, it’s not worth the hassle” and

            -Downsize
            – Start cutting staff to a skeleton crew and use labour-hire companies when necessary
            – Automate
            – Try and pass the costs on to the client and if the client can’t wear the added costs , go broke or just wind everything up.

            • Ankerrawshark 5.1.1.2.1.1

              BM. The research shows that this isn’t the case when wages go up ie that jobs don’t disappear.

              If businesses are so precarious that a wage increase leads them to fold then they are not strong business. Any increase in rent, goods etc could lead to them falling.

              I am a small business owner, so I do have some knowledge about this. Small businesses need to be prepared for the unforeseen otherwise they are not viable. This was brought home to me after a bout of ill health over some months. If I hadn’t managed my business well, then I would have gone under, as I experienced a significant loss of income

            • One Two 5.1.1.2.1.2

              What sort of world would you imagine, BM ?

            • Dukeofurl 5.1.1.2.1.3

              “a situation where business especially smaller business just say “Fuck this shit, it’s not worth the hassle”

              And the choice is ?
              Play on the stockmarket ( and possibly lose your shirt) or become a landlord and learn a whole new world of hassle.

              Oh a Third choice which brings its own rewards for small employers- pay your staff well and provide good conditions .

              • David Mac

                I will never employ another person, I call on contractors.

                They organise their own tax, ACC levies, Kiwisaver, holidays, uniforms, industry compliance, transport, training, sick days and if the work is sub standard, the redo is at their expense. They care about their reputation and if necessary, easy to dismiss.

                Probably not the ideal model for a business like Sistema but far from impossible. (I think the founder of that business recently sold out to overseas interests.) When looking at a potential business, one of my got-to-haves is ‘Can I run it with contractors?’

              • D'Esterre

                Dukeofurl: “Oh a Third choice which brings its own rewards for small employers- pay your staff well and provide good conditions.”

                Amen to that! This household has – as the saying goes – hands-on experience of small business. We ask: if businesses can’t employ people on decent wages and conditions, they need to look critically at their business model.

                With regard to wages and conditions, since the 90s in NZ, we’ve been in a race to the bottom. It’s not good enough.

            • Kevin 5.1.1.2.1.4

              Of course they are not happy BM.

              They have this cosy little environment in NZ which allows them to pay shit money for long hours and minimum conditions.

              It just amplifies how fucking useless the management and ownership of many companies is in New Zealand. They wouldn’t last five minutes in Australia.

              Go ahead and automate and keep reducing the number of potential buyers for your products. Such a sound business strategy.

              • Chuck

                “They have this cosy little environment in NZ which allows them to pay shit money for long hours and minimum conditions.”

                If Sistema is violating any employment law then I hope they are prosecuted.

                I suspect when Sistema was sold there may have been a clause in the sales agreement that production had to stay in NZ for a certain period of time.

                However in time with local NZ labour costs increasing, production will move offshore to somewhere in Asia.

            • ankerawshark 5.1.1.2.1.5

              Ok BM I am a small business owner. And I am completely supportive of decent conditions for workers.

              None of us are happy when costs go up, be it rent or the cost of goods transport etc. But if peoples businesses are that marginal, then something is wrong. Businesses need to be robust enough to deal with extra costs as they are inevitable.

              For myself recently, I had a prolonged bout of ill health that meant income was significantly reduced, but although I took a significant hit, my business is o.k. (far bigger hit than having to increase my workers wages I might add).

              From a purely moral point of view, I would question the validity of any business that doesn’t pay workers a living wage. For god sake its only around $20.00 per hour…..

            • McFlock 5.1.1.2.1.6

              Automation is happening anyway.

              The rest just lower the competition for decent employers who will then be able to employ more people.

              What’s the down side?

        • adam 5.1.1.3

          What a bullshit remark BM. Outright lies, and spin to create division.

          These reforms won’t do any of what you say, they will do sweet bugger all for workers.

          Mind you the comments show how much you hate average people getting ahead.

          Your sucking up to the exploiting class is really quick sickening, mind you, you are nothing more than a house negro.

          • Dennis Frank 5.1.1.3.1

            Ah, I gather the n word is frowned upon by the brain police. Expect their local agent in this social ecosystem to deliver a group-think-sourced reprimand anytime soon…

            • D'Esterre 5.1.1.3.1.1

              Dennis Frank: “Ah, I gather the n word is frowned upon by the brain police.”

              I don’t think that other “n” word is countenanced at all now, is it?

              Not the one Adam used.

        • the other pat 5.1.1.4

          ” If I employed people I’d seriously start looking at employer numbers and working out who I’d let go or if it’s feasible see what I could automate.”

          you do that…..and when people have no jobs and no money we will stand at the gates of your closing establishment and applaud your business acumen.

    • Dennis Frank 5.2

      Head-scratcher? He’s likely to be letting them know he’s no doormat. Proper procedure, folks. Let’s meet and go through the grouches, see how much hand-waving & how much substance are in there.

    • mickysavage 5.3

      It is my comment that the proposed changes are pretty modest. And I think I am in a position to make this judgment. I have followed Industrial law changes for nearly 40 years.

      It is Stuff’s comment that the proposals are controversial. To be honest they are both. Which makes the bona fides of those making the changes controversial questionable.

      • Dukeofurl 5.3.1

        Isnt the only part that is new – is the National awards approach.
        is this even in these legislative changes ?

  6. Morrissey 6

    Why is there not a monthly poll of New Zealand union leaders, i.e. the people who actually represent those who do the work in this country?

    • james 6.1

      Nothing stopping you starting one. Buy given all the strikes or threats of strikes might not be such a great PR move at the moment.

      • Professor Longhair 6.1.1

        ????

        Why does working people having a voice constitute bad “PR”? What on EARTH is this tick talking about?

        He is obviously bewildered. Why is he commenting?

    • William 6.2

      Given the dubious relevance of business confidence polls

      possibly more useful would be for the newspapers to be balanced (haha) and run regular opinion columns from union members and leaders. The Dompost presently run regular columns by John Milford from the Chamber of Commerce, and pieces by their business reporters such as Hamish Rutherford are stuck in in a TINA time warp. Very rarely does an alternative viewpoint get space.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 6.3

      I was thinking the same – a survey of “worker confidence”.

  7. Business nz caught with their pants down – shame on them for getting caught doing what they always do – feather their own nest. Selfish parasites imo.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    Business NZ has since admitted that a mistake was made but you have to wonder at the credibility of opinion news coming from that organisation.

    The question is if a mistake was made or if they’re upset that they got caught. IMO, it’s the latter.

    Business NZ must live in a bubble.

    They seem upset that employment laws are being brought back into the 1980s rather than being that of the 15th century. They want employees to be serfs.

    But New Zealand First is showing troubling signs of weakness:

    That shouldn’t be surprising. They’re still a conservative party with bias in favour of business owners. They still put society second.

  9. adam 9

    The changes are Modest, laugh, damn near died.

    Workers contract reforms are not modest, they are as weak as piss, and gutless retreat from labour principles.

    Which lets you know how much how fubar the employment class are in this country – to get worked up over sweet bugger all.

    They hate working people, working people should return the favour.

    • Dukeofurl 9.1

      What labour principles were those – as mentioned in election policy?

      I can remember my Mum, who worked as a machinist in a small clothing factory in Wellington in say the late 40s. Compulsory unionism was the way then.
      Once every 3 months a man from the Union – it was always a man with no
      particular connection to the industry – would turn up and collect union dues. That was it.
      of course modern union reps are a different world and work hard for their members, but no one would want a return to the past of top down unionism.

      When I lived in Australia most of the ‘salaried’ jobs I had came with union membership. As they were good employers didnt notice anything except for one where we suddenly got $1000 pa wage increase as part of the employer union negotiations. Choice .

      • adam 9.1.1

        I was not talking about election policy. I never do unless I state I’m talking about election policy – like my call that the labour party of NZ was far right in economic policy. Sorry for you, if that all you can view my statement..

        Here somthing from left field, as you want to limit the debate.

        Labour (not the party, but the labour movement) principles, like the working class not being wage slaves to capitalism. Other like workers not dying at work. You know, principles of which there is quite a few.

  10. Chris T 10

    Pretty desperate excuses for lack of business confidence

    Unless they have suddenly changed the template for the survey from this year on the same situation would have been there previously, but just with different reasons copy and pasted next to the tickboxes

    But if it makes people feel better, all good

  11. Philj 11

    I see the spokesperson answering for this dubious poll is Kathryn Asare – ex ACT candidate. Nuf said.

  12. UncookedSelachimorpha 12

    Sistema was sold to a US company in 2016 for NZD660m. At the time the purchasing company had a market capitalisation of USD 22 billion.

    They had a USD 1.052 billion operating profit at last report.

    They can afford to pay properly and not abuse people. No excuses.

  13. UncookedSelachimorpha 13

    The solution is to legislate and enforce decent behaviour by employers.

  14. NZJester 14

    I have run into polls in the past online I simply refused to answer due to the wording of the questions where all the answers could be easily manipulated to make it look like my positive responses were negative or vice versa. Unless the questions are clear and precise I simply refuse to answer them so that my response is not used to support something I do not believe in or try to discredit something I do believe in.

  15. Incognito 15

    I plucked some numbers from the Stats NZ website and my conclusions may not be correct but here goes.

    At Feb 2017 NZ had 528,170 enterprises and the number of paid employees in these enterprises was 2.2 million. Of all enterprises 71% had no (paid) employees, 27% had 1-19 employees, less than 1% (2,460 enterprises) had 100 or more employees, and this latter category employed 47% of all employees in NZ.

    https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/new-zealand-business-demography-statistics-at-february-2017

    It seems that that poll of 500 so-called business owners largely focusses on the latter category and, if so, it is not at all representative of the NZ business ecosystem.

    The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) is concerned about four aspects of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill:

    * Employers with 20 employees or more will lose the right to include 90-day-trial periods in employment agreements.
    * Businesses will be forced to settle collective agreements, even if they don’t or can’t agree
    * Union representatives will be allowed to access workplaces without permission
    * Not allowing businesses a choice to opt out of a multi-employer collective agreement

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/106996366/businessnz-admits-error-in-business-confidence-survey-that-lacked-validity

    But again, these concerns seem to largely apply to only a small to minute fraction of all businesses (i.e. the larger ones).

    Taken together, it looks like the ‘Big Boys’ are making a lot of noise whilst pretending to look after the small guys. Unfortunately, governments have a nasty habit of listening to their lobbyists and appeasing the ‘Big Boys’ (think exports and GDP) whilst ignoring & neglecting the grassroots businesses that once formed the fabric of NZ society.

    Rhetorically, on which side are the MSM?

  16. Darien Fenton 16

    I saw that bogus poll question ; in fact I tweeted it. I’m glad questions have been asked by good businesses who are respondents. But there’s this ; according to the media, NZ First are balking at the restoring of the MECA opt out provision. Let’s say what this is. It’s a provision that has been in law since 2000 (and was until 2015) that enables unions to initiate bargaining for an agreement with more than one employer in the same industry. MECAs are not that unusual. They were around even before the ERA in the 2000s in some industries such as the cleaning industry. They are also not a precursor of militant action. The truth is that the old (and suggested reversal) provisions were always weighted in favour of bosses who find a way to prevaricate, delay, court test and challenge the day to day security of their workers. While we have evidence of MECAs, they are mostly in the State Sector. What appears to have happened is that Port Companies and others such as Business NZ have managed to scaremonger NZ First. Well hello? What happened in the 15 years these provisions were intact? Port Companies, like Ports of Auckland were militant, locking out their workers. To be honest, I despair at the understanding of those making decisions and others reporting them.

  17. Infused 17

    Like it or not everyone feeling the effects now.

  18. Philj 18

    “Business NZ bogus Poll” Is this news? Really. They are all biased, bought and paid for. Why else would they fund them. Polls are a form of not so subtle bullying of the citizenry.

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