in the news on-line, 7 august 2012

23:22:37 local time map of china CHINA

* 30 pct of migrants employed without contracts- report:

China’s top population authority said Monday that over 30 percent of the country’s migrant workers are employed without a proper contract to protect their rights.

Only 51.3 percent of migrants hold fixed-term contracts, and they work an average of 54.6 hours per week, far above the 40-hour legal limit, according to a report issued Monday by the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

China’s floating population, those who have left their registered hometowns without obtaining a new household registration, or “hukou,” reached 230 million in 2011, or 17 percent of the total population. read more.

* Chinese takeaway helps textiles firm:

Pulling out of the Far East was one of the smartest moves taken by a Preston textiles company, according to its managing director.

Sarah Page, who heads family firm Plumbs, said it decided to withdraw from China a decade ago having been one of the first firms to dip its toe in taking on suppliers in the Far East.
She said returning to suppliers back in Britain had stood the company in good stead in recent years when others had struggle to secure quality cotton in the domestic market.
The boss spoke about the challenges facing the company, which has its head office at Brookhouse Mill on Old Lancaster Lane, at the latest business lunch event hosted by celebrity chef, Paul Heathcote, in his city centre, Heathcotes Brasserie.
Mrs Page said: “We were probably one of the first companies to dabble in China around 13 years ago, when it was still an emerging economy. read more.

* Bumper cotton output expected:

China is likely to have enough cotton harvest this year and the government will not allow additional cotton imports beyond the quota this year, in order to ease the pressure on domestic cotton stocks, the China Cotton Association (CCA) said Monday.

The country’s cotton planting area this year is smaller than last year but the cotton crop is much better compared to the same period of 2011, and the domestic cotton output is expected to be sufficient as long as there are no floods in autumn, the CCA said Monday, citing a report by the Cotton Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

The price of domestic cotton was 5,248 yuan ($824) per ton, higher than that of imported cotton in the first half of the year, prompting many textile manufacturers to import cotton, leading to more pressure on domestic cotton stocks, the report said.
read more.

22:22:37 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Are we approaching the end of cheap labour in Thailand?:

One of the most important expected changes to the Thai economy in 2012 came on April 1, when the minimum wage in Bangkok and six of Thailand’s 75 provinces was boosted from about Bt215 per day to Bt300 per day – an unprecedented 40 per cent jump.

The wage hike will be applied to all provinces in January 2013, and will fulfil one of the government’s major campaign promises. There are concerns about triggering inflation, the ability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to cope, and questions about implementation, but overall Thailand’s economic brass – both public and private – seem united on the need to make the move. Public debate in late 2011 and early 2012 was not over the wisdom of the policy, but on the methods to be used and the speed of implementation.

The current government won the general election last year on a campaign platform that includes agricultural subsidies, reducing the corporate tax rate and boosting the minimum wage. The lowest amount paid to workers in the informal economy has varied in Thailand, ranging from about Bt 215 a day in the most economically advanced areas, such as Bangkok and the resort island of Phuket, to Bt 159 in northern and northeastern provinces, which are economically less developed. A main motivation for this unequal scale has been to encourage the spread of manufacturing jobs beyond Bangkok by offering lower labour costs. read more.

22:22:37 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Alleged job sacking incites factory protest:

The dismissal of a worker allegedly fired by Xin Lan (Cambodia) garment factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district for frequently relieving himself on the factory’s perimeter fence has sparked a mass strike of about 1,000 fellow workers – almost all of the factory’s staff.

Nov Chantha, a representative of the Free Trade Union at Xin Lan factory, said yesterday that workers were striking to demand points including the reinstatement of the dismissed worker, US$10 travel allowance, $10 attendance bonus, $13 monthly food allowance and a hot water container.

“We strike and do not give notice to the factory, because we feel angry over the worker’s dismissal. Workers’ anger becomes big and they demand other benefits because they know nearby factories get good benefits,” he said. read more.

* Workers strike at Chinese-owned underwear factory:

About 1,000 workers from Chinese-owned Xin Lan (Cambodia) Garment Co Ltd went on strike Monday, sources said.

Free Trade Union of Workers officer Soy Chanthu said they were seeking $10 transport allowances and $10 bonuses as well as access to hot water, lunch money and the reinstatement of a dismissed union representative.
He said the workers had begun striking on Saturday and had refused to go back to work on Monday as their demands had not been met. read more. read more.

* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:

1. Factories claim worker support. read more.
2. Truck mishap leaves nearly 30 garment workers injured.read more.
3. Decent work in Cambodia- how far have we come.read more.
4. Unions skirmish using factory as ‘battleground’.read more.
5. Strike may end if deal holds- union.read more.

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:

6. Unions set to discuss agreement on strikes. read more.

23:22:37 local time map of malaysia MALYASIA

* Govt: EPF withdrawal age will not be raised:

Private sector workers can withdraw their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings in full when they reach 55 although the minimum retirement age is extended to 60 from January next year.

“Following the Government’s decision to extend the retirement age in the private sector, there was talk that the EPF withdrawal age would be raised from 55 to 60 years,” said Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.
“At this stage, the Government does not intend to implement such a system.
“If they have an EPF account, they can withdraw their savings in full when they reach 55,” he told reporters in Jelapang near here yesterday. read more.

* MTUC praises stand to retain EPF withdrawal at age 55:

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said the government decision to retain the withdrawal age for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) at 55 for private sector employees, as a smart move.

MTUC president Mohd Khalid Atan said the congress had conducted a study and it showed 80 percent of private sector employees chose to withdraw their EPF at the age of 55, although the minimum retirement age has been extended to 60 years, effective January next year.

“MTUC welcomes the decision because since the beginning, the private sector employees have been given a choice either to withdraw their EPF at the age of 55 or 60,” he told Bernama. read more.

* Timeless kebaya hailed:

Though they hail from various backgrounds, finalists of the Ratu Kebaya 2012 pageant are all united in their praise for the traditional garment’s timeless allure.

The 12 lovely lasses who qualified for the finals on Aug 11 pointed to the kebaya’s figure-enhancing qualities, elegance and versatility as key attributes.
Laureen Quah, 20, said the attire, while grounded in tradition, was sophisticated and did not reveal too much skin.
“This pageant is different, as contestants get the opportunity to immerse themselves in something other than their own culture,” she added.
Fellow finalists Puteri Erna Eleeza Megat Aminuddin and Jeishwari Kaur, both 22, agreed, saying that the garment’s versatility transcends the boundaries of race and occasion.

“Whether it is a casual or formal occasion, one looks great in the kebaya, as it accentuates and enhances your figure.
“During the Hari Raya season, the kebaya is always my garment of choice, even if I’m just going out shopping,” said Puteri Erna Eleeza.
Jeishwari Kaur added, “Its elegance means that not only Malaysians of all races can look beautiful in it, but also people from all over the world. The kebaya is truly a work of art.” read more.

23:22:37 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* One Million Workers Plan Strike Post Lebaran:

The Indonesia Confederation Union of Workers (KSPI) plans to strike simultaneously in 14 cities this September.

“Our target is for a million workers to strike simultaneously,” said KSPI president, Said Iqbal on Saturday.
The strike, said Iqbal, would demand three things. First, repeal the rules on outsourcing. “All workers should have direct contract with a company,” said Iqbal.

In addition, the demonstration will also seek the inclusion of 86 components of Decent Living Needs (KHL) in determining minimum wages. Finally, the mass strike will demand that the health insurance premiums of 5 percent of employee salaries be taken over and paid by the company.
(…)
The election momentum to strike in September, said Iqbal, would put pressure on the government to grant minimum wages and better conditions for workers.
read more.

21:52:37 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* ILO meets factory owner over firings:

An International Labour Organisation official met last week with the owner of a garment factory where nine workers were allegedly dismissed for forming a labour organisation.

Mr Ross Wilson, chief technical advisor for the ILO’s Freedom of Association Project, told The Myanmar Times that the sackings were “a very important case” for labour rights in Myanmar.
“The workers were dismissed the day after they formed the labour organsation,” Mr Wilson said.

The workers appealed their dismissal from A Dream of Kindness garment factory in Mingalardon township but a Yangon Region arbitration body upheld the factory owners’ decision on July 16, according to media reports. They then appealed to the union-level arbitration body, which reinstated seven of the workers.
“The ILO is very concerned because of the decision of the arbitration body,” Mr Wilson said. read more.

21:22:37 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* A Chronology of the Investigation of the Murder of Labor Activist Aminul Islam:

Lack of Progress Spurs Concerns of Impunity and Cover-Up to Protect Security Forces as Workers and Labor Leaders Fear for their Safety

Summary
Aminul Islam, 40, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers’ Federation (BGIWF)’s local committee in the Savar and Ashulia areas of Dhaka and a senior organizer with a well-known labor rights group, the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), was tortured and murdered in early April 2012. To date, nobody has been held responsible for this crime.

Over the past two years, Mr. Islam had been a target of harassment by Bangladeshi police and security forces.  He was detained and beaten by National Security Intelligence (NSI) on June 16, 2010.  NSI officers demanded he provide a written statement, falsely implicating his colleagues at BCWS in criminal activities associated with garment worker unrest.  Along with many other labor leaders and workers, Mr. Islam was facing trial in several cases connected to garment worker demonstrations for a decent wage in July and August 2010, and was charged with a number of spurious and unsubstantiated criminal offenses despite his verifiable alibis.
Just before he died Mr. Islam had been helping workers employed by Shanta Group, a garment manufacturer based in the Dhaka Export Processing Zone, to organize.
read more.

* RMG workers demonstrate for salaries:

The police charge batons to disperse workers of Pearl Prince Apparels as they block the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway at Tongi on Monday, to press home their demands. — Focusbangla photo<br />
The police charge batons to disperse workers of Pearl Prince Apparels as they block the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway at Tongi on Monday, to press home their demands. — Focusbangla photo

About 1,500 workers of a sweater factory at Jirabo under Ashulia near the capital on Monday demanded their salaries to be paid for July.
Sources said workers of Magpie Sweater Factory came to the premises in the morning and demanded their salary as the management was yet to pay them.
As the management did not heed the workers demands, they started a demonstration, said those who took part.
Their five-point demands includes the salary for the month of July, salary for August, Eid bonus before the 20th Ramadan, piece rate hike and job security.
Workers said that the management said they would pay the workers on Sunday, but did not.
Some workers, on the condition of anonymity, said that the management always has excuses for why they do not pay the salary on time.
Demonstrators at one stage tried to leave the factory, but police controlled the situation immediately.
Mukhlesur Rahman, inspector of Ashulia belt industrial police, said that the workers pressed their demands to factory management. Later, they were given their salary for July and given assurances on their other demands. read more.

* Arrears in apparel sector could foment fresh unrest before Eid:

Fresh unrest in the country’s garment industry is likely to brew before the Eid festival if owners fail to payout workers’ arrears and festival allowances by August 08, labour leaders fear.

They say workers in several factories have been staging demonstration in recent days over such demands, which could take a serious turn unless necessary measures are taken immediately.
The labour leaders’ apprehension came Monday when two factories witnessed protests in Gazipur and Ashulia–the apparel industrial belts.
Hundreds of workers of Opex Holding Ltd at Chandra in Gazipur went on the rampage demanding salaries, bonuses and other benefits at the unit. read more.

* RMG workers demand salary, bonus before Ramadan 20:

Bangladesh Garment Workers Unity Council (BGWUC) on Monday urged the garment owners to pay their salary, bonus arrears before Ramadan 20 (Aug 9).

The RMG leaders made the demand at a human chain in front of the National Press Club.
They also urged the garment owners not to lay off factories and retrench workers before Eid.
Secretary of the National Garment Federation Amirul Haq Amin said the workers and owners should reach a consensus through negotiations to avoid unrest in the sector. “The owners must not retrench, harass workers and close garment factories before Eid.” read more.

* BGMEA to expedite exports Muhith’s tips for higher growth:

Garment manufacturers, shipping agents and freight forwarders at a meeting on Sunday decided to form a working committee to solve existing and evolving problems through discussion on monthly basis to expedite the export process, report agencies.
The committee will be formed with the representatives of all related trade bodies including Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and International Container Shipping Association (ICSA) and Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BAFA).
The meeting was held at the conference room of the BGMEA with its President M Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin in the chair.

BGMEA vice president Faruque Hasan, chairman of Port and Shipping Committee Hasan Abdullah, ICSA vice president Shamim-ul-Hoque and BAFA President Mahbubul Alam, among others, were present at the meeting.
The meeting decided to take necessary steps to complete the shipment of the containers carrying exportable goods by August 18 in Chittagong.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith on Sunday suggested the owners of readymade garment (RMG) factories to go for sub-contracting in the industry saying, it would flourish the growth of the sector further.
“I’ll suggest you (RMG owners) to think about the sub- contracting to help grow the sector further,” he told a function to inaugurate the music contest titled ‘BGMEA Gorbo-2012’ at a hotel in the city. read more.

* Muhith advises RMG owners to go for sub-contracting for higher growth:

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith today suggested the owners of readymade garment (RMG) factories to go for sub-contracting in the industry saying, it would flourish the growth of the sector further.

“I’ll suggest you (RMG owners) to think about the sub- contracting to help grow the sector further,” he told a function to inaugurate the music contest titled ‘BGMEA Gorbo-2012’ at a hotel in the city.
The contest began with the participation of garment workers begins here tomorrow.

State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Munnujan Sufian, Chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on Ministry of labour Israfil Alam, president of federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) AK Azad, US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena, BGMEA president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Exporters Association Bangladesh (EAB) Abdus Salam Murshedi and president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) Asif Ibrahim spoke on the occasion. read more.

* BGMEA works for a better industrial relationship:

The country’s garment makers are now working on how to implement the Better Work Programme of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to establish a better industrial relationship between the workers and the factory managements.

Lejo Sibbel, ILO’s senior design adviser of the Better Work Programme, and Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), discussed the details of the programme at a meeting at the BGMEA office in the capital yesterday.
In 2009, the US Department of Labour instructed Bangladesh government to implement the ILO’s Better Work Programme, according to a statement of the BGMEA. read more.

* BD sportswear export to UK up ahead of ongoing Olympic:

Bangladesh has achieved a significant growth in export of readymade garments (RMG) to the United Kingdom (UK) mainly because of increasing demand of sportswear ahead of Olympic Game 2012.

According to the industry insiders, over twenty per cent of the total RMG exports to UK were sportswear during the month of July.
They said most of importers have imported T-shirts, Jerseys, overcoats, car-coats, caps, cloaks, ski-jackets, wind-cheaters, wind-jackets and similar articles like jackets, blazers and trousers for men, women, boys and girls, for the Olympic Game.
Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data shows that the total garment exports to the United Kingdom has increased by 20 per cent in last fiscal year (2011-12).read more.

* CD of songs sung by RMG workers launched:

The Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Sunday launched a CD titled ‘Amader Gaan’ containing songs sung by garment workers who were winner of BGMEA Gorbo-2011 music contest at Radisson Hotel.
The finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, launched the CD and also inaugurated the music contest, BGMEA Gorbo-2012, with the participation of garment workers.
The finance minister said this contest would help to find out the new talents in the readymade garment sector.
He suggested that the garment factory owners should start the sub-contract business so that the RMG growth could reach at 50 per cent while the present growth of the sector was only 25 per cent. read more.

20:52:37 local time map of india INDIA

* Worsted? Garment makers see worst fears coming true:

A poor marriage season during April-May this year has given sleepless nights to menswear and suit makers such as Raymond and Arvind.

Fewer auspicious wedding dates in the last quarter meant lesser
demand for suit fabrics and garments of these companies, which derive significant sales from the marriage season.
For Raymond, April-May was the poorest in terms of sales due to a temporary dip in consumer sentiment, company officials said on a conference call with analysts.

There are typically two wedding seasons in the country — between April and May and the longer one during November-January.
Amitabh Suri, senior vice-president – marketing, Indian Terrain Fashions, said while April was good in terms of off-take, May was the worst in the last five years and June more promotion-driven.
J Suresh, chief executive officer, Arvind Brands, said demand in May was subdued.
read more.

* Demonstration:

Mysore- Employees of a private garment manufacturing unit staged a demonstration in front of the factory premises in the city on Monday seeking immediate payment of arrears and reinstatement of the retrenched workers.

The employees alleged that the salary due to them for July was in arrears and they were laid off citing lack of adequate work orders. Though the workers were promised by the senior staff of the factory that the salary would be credited to their accounts, the employees remained unconvinced and continued with their agitation. to read.

* Readymade garment export target set at $18 b this fiscal:

The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) has set an ambitious target of exporting readymade garments worth $18 billion this fiscal. .
Briefing presspersons here on Monday, Textiles Joint Secretary (Exports) V. Srinivas said the apparel industry had exported readymade garments worth $13.11 billion in the last fiscal.

Investment
With huge investment planned in the XII Plan, , the country could export $50 billion worth readymade garments. Every one billion dollar export created one million direct jobs in this sector, Mr. Srinivas said.
The Centre and the council had been making efforts to set up apparel parks.
read more.

* Govt confident of $18 bn apparel exports in FY13:

Notwithstanding the recent fall in volumes of apparel exports to the US and the European Union, the Centre is confident that the industry will achieve the $18 billion target during the present fiscal.

In the medium term, the government has set an ambitious target of $50 billion dollars by 2015. To achieve this, it has launched major programmes to augment the raw material base, increase design talent and skilled workforce, bring technological advancement and place the onus on value addition rather than exporting fabrics, a top official today said. read more.

* AEPC holds interactive session to boost garment exports:

In order to solicit expert views on the mechanics of the world apparel market, access current order-book position and to seek suggestions from exporters at large, an interactive brainstorming session to boost export of readymade garments from the country under the Chairperson-ship of Shri V Srinivas, Joint Secretary, Exports at the Ministry of Textiles was held at Bangalore.

Dr. A Sakthivel, Chairman Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) gave the inaugural address during the session. Dr. Sakthivel said that “you may be aware that on my recommendations to Shri Anand Sharma, Union Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles, he has announced several fresh proposals and extended many export promotion schemes for readymade garment sector viz two per cent inter-subvention, two per cent Focus Market Linked scheme to USA and European Union and enlargement of countries under FMS/FPS, to name a few. read more.

* A promising festival season for textiles:

Prices of cotton products up by nearly 25 per cent

The textile industry in this region is busy for the festival season. Spinning mills and weaving units that are into cotton or silk products are seeing orders picking up.

Though there is a relatively sluggish market for cotton-based products for the last few days compared to last month, the orders for silk products are high.
Starting with Aadi sales, the season continues with festivals till January. This is usually a period of high demand. Many powerloom units get busy after Deepavali and cater to the north Indian markets too.
This year too sales have revived with the Aadi sales.

The cost of silk yarn and cocoon is usually steady during the festival season because of the demand for silk fabrics and products. This year, the rates were high compared to last year as production of cocoon was affected in other States because of deficient monsoon and production was good in Tamil Nadu. Silk weavers in this region were having good orders and demand and prices had also gone up for them.
read more.

* Remove hurdles to trade, investment, Sri Lanka tells India:

Sri Lanka wants India to remove obstacles to trade and investment from the island nation.

At a meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Chief Executive Officers Forum held here on Saturday, Sri Lanka made a request in the backdrop of the two Governments envisaging a doubling of trade within the next three years. The move is also likely to reduce the trade imbalance between India and Sri Lanka that is heavily in New Delhi’s favour.

The CEOs felt there was immense opportunity in the apparel sector for both sides to increase their market share in the world. Also, Sri Lanka sought further relaxation of the rules of origin and quota for apparel in India. read more.

20:22:37 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Textile exports decline 10.38 percent:

Textile exports recorded at 12.356 billion dollars in 2011-12 against 13.788 billion dollars during the same period of the corresponding year, registering a decline of 1.432 billion dollars (10.38 percent), sources revealed.
Officials of the Textile Ministry revealed that textile made-up worth 12.357 billion dollars were exported during July 2011-June 12, as compared to 13.788 billion dollars during the same period of the previous year.

In Textiles Policy 2009-14, a target of 25 billion dollars textile exports was envisaged by 2014. To achieve the target, the Ministry had proposed various short to long-term initiatives, while the Cabinet approved these initiatives along with proposed funding plan.read more.

* Hectic buying by mills as fears of drought loom large over cotton growing areas:

Rising fears of severe drought across the country, propelled the mills to keep buying in full swing, dealers said on the cotton market on Monday.
The official spot rate was unchanged at Rs 5650, they said. In the ready business over 16,000 bales of cotton changed hands between Rs 5600-5850, they said. The prices of seedcotton in Sindh and Punjab were at Rs 2550-2600, they added.

According to the market sources there is no sign of monsoon rains in the cotton belt which is keeping traders in grip of uncertainties. Nearly one month ago, Met department forecasted for rains but the country did not receive required rains, other analysts said.read more.

map of Asia

CHINA
* 30 pct of migrants employed without contracts- report
* Chinese takeaway helps textiles firm
* Bumper cotton output expected

THAILAND
* Are we approaching the end of cheap labour in Thailand?

CAMBODIA
* Alleged job sacking incites factory protest
* Workers strike at Chinese-owned underwear factory
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
1. Factories claim worker support
2. Truck mishap leaves nearly 30 garment workers injured
3. Decent work in Cambodia- how far have we come
4. Unions skirmish using factory as ‘battleground’
5. Strike may end if deal holds- union
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
6. Unions set to discuss agreement on strikes

MALYASIA
* Govt: EPF withdrawal age will not be raised
* MTUC praises stand to retain EPF withdrawal at age 55
* Timeless kebaya hailed

INDONESIA
* One Million Workers Plan Strike Post Lebaran

BURMA/MYANMAR
* ILO meets factory owner over firings

BANGLA DESH
* A Chronology of the Investigation of the Murder of Labor Activist Aminul Islam
* RMG workers demonstrate for salaries
* Arrears in apparel sector could foment fresh unrest before Eid
* RMG workers demand salary, bonus before Ramadan 20
* BGMEA to expedite exports Muhith’s tips for higher growth
* Muhith advises RMG owners to go for sub-contracting for higher growth
* BGMEA works for a better industrial relationship
* BD sportswear export to UK up ahead of ongoing Olympic
* CD of songs sung by RMG workers launched

INDIA
* Worsted? Garment makers see worst fears coming true
* Demonstration
* Readymade garment export target set at $18 b this fiscal
* Govt confident of $18 bn apparel exports in FY13
* AEPC holds interactive session to boost garment exports
* A promising festival season for textiles
* Remove hurdles to trade, investment, Sri Lanka tells India

PAKISTAN
* Textile exports decline 10.38 percent
* Hectic buying by mills as fears of drought loom large over cotton growing areas

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I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
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I'd like to know what they've paid for it
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Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
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