German airport security staff strike hits more than 600 flights

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Security staff of the Cologne-Bonn Airport wave flags of German union Verdi during a strike called by Verdi at Duesseldorf, Cologne and Stuttgart airports. (Reuters)
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A board at Cologne-Bonn Airport displays cancelled flights during a strike of German union Verdi that called on security staff at Duesseldorf, Cologne and Stuttgart airports. (Reuters)
Updated 10 January 2019
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German airport security staff strike hits more than 600 flights

  • Out of 1,054 scheduled flights in total, 643 were canceled
  • Verdi said that the strike would continue until the end of the day

BERLIN: More than 640 flights in Germany were canceled on Thursday due to security staff strikes at Duesseldorf, Cologne and Stuttgart airports as workers sought to put pressure on management in wage talks.
Out of 1,054 scheduled flights in total, 643 were canceled, the airports said, adding that many of their passengers would be affected, with significant delays at security checkpoints. An average of 115,000 passengers pass through the airports per day.
Public sector union Verdi said it was negotiating on behalf of 23,000 security workers in Germany. Wage talks are to resume on Jan. 23, it said. The union has demanded a pay increase to €20 ($23.06) per hour before tax.
On Monday, a strike at Berlin’s Schoenefeld and Tegel airports had caused delays and flight cancelations.
Around 1,000 security workers took part in the strike during the morning, Verdi said on Thursday, adding that the strike would continue until the end of the day.
“After five days of talks, the negotiations have come to a standstill ... and that’s why we thought it was necessary to make a move with these warning strikes today,” Andrea Becker, a spokeswoman for the union said.
Christian Witt, one of the passengers stranded at Duesseldorf airport, told Reuters: “You never understand when it affects you personally but you have to see the bigger picture.” ($1 = €0.8675)


Report raises fresh doubts over Trump’s NATO commitment

Updated 16 January 2019
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Report raises fresh doubts over Trump’s NATO commitment

  • Last year, Trump repeatedly told senior officials that he did not see the point of NATO
  • Before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete”

WASHINGTON: Fresh doubts surfaced Tuesday over President Donald Trump’s commitment to NATO, after he was reported to have discussed a desire to pull out of the trans-Atlantic military alliance.
Last year, Trump repeatedly told senior officials that he did not see the point of NATO — the historic alliance that forms the backbone of the West’s post-World War II security order — and that he wanted to withdraw, The New York Times reported.
He has often blasted members of the 29-nation partnership for not paying more into their national defense budgets.
Before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete” and soon after a tumultuous summit in July, he questioned whether the US would honor the alliance’s founding principle of mutual defense for newest member Montenegro.
Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US remains “100 percent” committed to NATO.
At the summit the president said the US “commitment to NATO is very strong” and “tremendous progress has been made” by allies and partners.
“That has not changed,” Pahon said in a statement.
“NATO remains the cornerstone of transatlantic security.”
In Brussels, a NATO official also highlighted Trump’s comments from the July summit.
“The United States is strongly committed to NATO and to transatlantic security,” the official told AFP.
“The US has significantly boosted its commitment to the defense of Europe, including with increased troop commitments.”
Turning 70 this year, NATO has underpinned Western security in Europe for decades, first countering the Soviet Union and then Russian expansionism.
A US withdrawal from NATO would be a strategic gift of epic proportions to Russia, which is accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential elections to help Trump win.
Former defense secretary Jim Mattis was a staunch proponent of NATO and repeatedly visited its Brussels headquarters, where he sought to reassure allies about America’s commitment to the alliance.
But Mattis quit last month, and observers see a shrinking coterie of advisers around Trump willing to push back against him.
The US Congress, including Trump’s own Republican Party, would likely push back against any effort to withdraw from NATO.
The only country to have ever invoke Article 5, NATO’s collective defense principle, was America following the September 11, 2001 attacks.