Three Killed As Suspected Israeli Strike Hits Syrian Airbase

 

A missile strike on a Syrian airbase that Damascus blamed on Israel killed at least three Iran-backed militiamen, a monitor said on Wednesday. 

Four missiles hit the T4 base in Homs province, north of the capital, at around 10:00 pm (2000 GMT) on Tuesday, state news agency SANA reported, blaming the attack on Israel.

It said the strike caused damage but no casualties.

But the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least three Iran-backed militiamen were killed.

It said the strike damaged an Iranian arms depot, two military vehicles and a building still under construction.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said the dead were all non-Syrians, adding that Israel was likely behind the attack.

He said both Iranian forces and Russian military advisers were stationed at the base, which has been hit by Israeli forces in the past.

An Israeli army spokeswoman made no comment when contacted by AFP.

The missile strike adds to the growing tension in the Middle East after a US drone killed senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a targeted strike in Baghdad on January 3.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Israel has carried out many raids against forces of the Syrian government and its allies, Iran and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Israel insists it will not allow Syria to become a bridgehead for Iranian intervention in the region.

AFP

US Strike Kills Taliban Splinter Commander In Herat

 

A US airstrike killed a Taliban splinter-group commander and several other fighters in the western Afghan province of Herat, Afghan and military sources said Thursday.

The commander, named as Mullah Nangyalay, was killed in Shindand district, close to the border with Iran, said Herat provincial governor’s spokesman Jailani Farhad.

Nangyalay split from the main branch of the Taliban after the 2013 death of founder Mullah Omar and joined a smaller breakaway faction led by a commander known as Mullah Rasool.

READ ALSO: Iran Civil Aviation Boss ‘Certain’ Ukraine Plane Not Hit By Missile

A senior provincial police source said the airstrike had been carried out by a US drone.

A spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan confirmed they had launched “a defensive air strike in support of Afghan forces”.

The main Taliban group has been negotiating with Washington for more than a year over the withdrawal of US troops in exchange for security guarantees from the militants that could pave the way to intra-Afghan peace talks.

Air Strike Kills Eight Iraq Paramilitaries In East Syria

 

An airstrike in eastern Syria killed eight fighters of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force overnight, a war monitor said on Friday.

“Unidentified aircraft targeted vehicles and arms depots in the Albu Kamal area, causing a large explosion. At least eight Iraqi Hashed fighters were killed,” the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, said.

He said several others were wounded.

Through a spokesman contacted by AFP, the US-led military coalition operating in Syria and Iraq denied carrying out the strike.

Abdel Rahman said three villages in the Albu Kamal area known for housing forces loyal to Tehran have been targeted by drone strikes since Wednesday, causing no casualties.

READ ALSO: Iranian Missile Brought Down Airliner, Says Canadian PM

The deadly strike comes in a context of spiralling tension between the United States and Iran, much of which has played out in Iraq.

Late last year, a US air strike in Iraq killed 25 Hashed fighters from the Kataeb Hezbollah militia, considered one of the closest to Tehran.

Hashed supporters subsequently stormed the huge US embassy compound in central Baghdad, further escalating the situation.

On January 3, a US strike near Baghdad airport killed Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s feared external operations supremo, in one of the Middle East’s highest-profile assassinations of recent years.

Also killed in the strike was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a founder of Kataeb Hezbollah and seen as Iran’s man in Iraq.

Tehran has vowed bloody revenge and has so far responded with ballistic missiles on a base in western Iraq housing US and other coalition troops.

Iran claimed the strikes killed 80 people but neither the US nor the Iraqi military reported any casualties.

Iran ‘Appears To Be Standing Down’, Says Trump

US President Donald Trump, flanked by advisors, reads from the teleprompter as he addresses the situation with Iran in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, DC, January 8, 2020. AFP

 

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday Iran appeared to be “standing down” after missile strikes on US troop bases in Iraq that resulted in no American or Iraqi deaths.

“All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases. Our great American forces are prepared for anything,” he said in an address to the nation from the White House.

“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world. No American or Iraqi lives were lost.”

Trump announced the United States would be imposing “additional punishing sanctions” on Iran but made no mention of possible retaliation to Tuesday’s missile attacks — seen by experts as a measured first response by Iran to the killing of General Qasem Soleimani in an American drone strike.

AFP

South African Airways Begin Dialogue With Unions Over Strike

SAA (South African Airways) workers and union members sing and dance during a picket protest outside the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 15, 2019. Michele Spatari / AFP
SAA (South African Airways) workers and union members sing and dance during a picket protest outside the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 15, 2019. Michele Spatari / AFP

 

South African Airways on Saturday started mediated talks with unions, one day after its workers launched an open-ended strike that forced the embattled airline to ground hundreds of flights.

More than 3,000 workers — including cabin crew, technical and ground staff — started striking on Friday to demand higher pay and to protest against restructuring plans involving heavy job losses.

The walkout forced South Africa’s cash-strapped flag carrier to cancel more than 300 domestic and regional flights between Friday and Monday.

South African Airways (SAA) said unions had agreed to start talks on Saturday mediated by an independent labour dispute resolution body.

“It is in the public interest that this dispute be resolved,” said an SAA human resources manager Martin Kemp in a statement on Saturday, adding that the unions’ “willingness to find a resolution” was “laudable”.

Unions first threatened to strike after SAA announced this week that almost 1,000 employees could lose their jobs as part of a restructuring process.

Talks with management deadlocked after they failed to agree on wage hikes, prompting unions to press on with their threats.

SAA is offering a 5.9 percent pay rise, while unions are demanding an eight percent across-the-board hike and a three-year guarantee of job security.

“Our efforts are focused on finding solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and return operations to normal,” said Kemp.

“We are exploring all possible avenues.”

He added that it was a “critical time” for the company.

SAA is one of the biggest airlines in Africa. It employs more than 5,000 workers, with a fleet of more than 50 aircrafts providing dozens of domestic, regional and international flights each day.

But the carrier is deep in debt, despite several government bailouts, and has not posted a profit since 2011.

SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali told AFP the airline was losing 52 million rand ($3.5 million) per day due to flight cancellations.

International flights are scheduled to resume on Sunday, said the airline, while regional and domestic flights remain cancelled until Monday included.

 

AFP

British Airways Pilots Call Off Strike

 

British Airways pilots have called off a strike that had been due to commence on September 27.

The British Airline Pilots Association union confirmed this in a statement issued on Wednesday, a week after two walkouts.

“Someone has to take the initiative to sort out this dispute and with no sign of that from BA the pilots have decided to take the responsible course,” BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said.

The union chief added that the airline’s “passengers rightly expect BA and its pilots to resolve their issues without disruption and now is the time for cool heads and pragmatism to be brought to bear.

“I hope BA and its owner IAG show as much responsibility as the pilots,” he added.

It was now “time for a period of reflection before the dispute escalates further and irreparable damage is done to the (BA) brand.”

However the union added that should the airline “refuse meaningful new negotiations, BALPA retains the right to announce further strike dates”.

British Airways, which likes to call itself “the world’s favourite airline”, flew into turbulence last week as pilots staged a costly and historic two-day strike, tarnishing its global reputation according to aviation analysts.

Pilots walked out for the first time in the company’s 100-year history, sparked by a bitter and long-running feud over pay.

BA faced the embarrassment of grounding its entire UK fleet on September 9 and 10, causing the cancellation of about 1,600 flights.

The move sparked travel chaos for about 200,000 passengers who had been due to fly in and out of London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

The disruption continued into September 11 because half of BA’s 300 aircraft and more than 700 pilots were mostly in the wrong place.

As a result, BA was forced to cancel approximately ten percent of its daily 850 flights in and out of Britain that day.

BALPA and its members are demanding a bigger share of British Airways profits.

The airline has offered a salary increase of 11.5 percent over three years, which it argues would boost the annual pay of some captains to £200,000 ($250,000 or 226,000 euros).

However, the union has rejected the proposal made in July.

BALPA meanwhile estimates that last week’s 48-hour strike cost the airline £80 million.

BA is owned by IAG, which was formed in 2011 with the merger of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia. IAG has since added other carriers, including Austria’s Vueling and Ireland’s Aer Lingus.

AFP

British Airways Faces First Global Pilots’ Strike

 

British Airways faced its first global strike by pilots on Monday and the possibility of almost all its flights being grounded for two days.

The UK flag carrier and its 4,300 pilots have been locked in a nine-month pay dispute that could disrupt or alter the travel plans of nearly 300,000 people.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government urged both sides Friday “to get round the table and sort this out”.

But BA only upped the stakes by reportedly threatening to strip pilots and their families of free travel perks if the strike action goes ahead.

“We make no apology for doing everything we can to protect our customers from further disruption,” a BA spokesperson told the Financial Times on Friday.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has rejected a pay increase of 11.5 percent over three years that the airline proposed in July.

BA says the offer would see flight captains receive “world-class” pay and benefits of around £200,000 ($246,000 or 220,000 euros) a year.

It also points out that two other unions representing 90 percent of the airlines’ workers have accepted the 11.5-percent raise.

BALPA counters that co-pilots’ salaries average around £70,000 — and that of junior ones drops down to just £26,000.

This leaves some in heavy debt since they must first undergo training that the BBC estimates costs around £100,000.

BALPA also points to a nearly 10-percent jump in pre-tax profits reported by BA’s parent company IAG last year.

“One day of strike action will cost BA, on their own figures, £40 million,” BALPA tweeted on Sunday.

“The difference between us now is £5 million. Why won’t they work with us to end this dispute?”

The union said that BA never replied to a counteroffer it made to the airline on Wednesday.

Pilots are threatening to strike for one more day on September 27 — and then possibly again closer to the winter holidays — should the dispute rage on.

‘Deeply sorry’ 

BA says a “vast majority” of its travellers have either made alternative arrangements or accepted refunds since being informed of the possible walkout last month.

“We don’t underestimate the inconvenience caused, for which we are deeply sorry,” BA said in a statement to customers on Sunday.

But it remains unclear how many people using BA for just one leg of an extended journey will be affected worldwide.

BA is preparing to cancel 850 flight on Monday.

The Financial Times said the airline normally operates 1,700 flights over a 48-hour span.

IAG has been trying to rebound from a loss of investor confidence that drove its stock price down by almost 40 percent in the past 12 months.

But BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said the company had adopted a “cost-cutting culture (that) has in the eyes of pilots not only dumbed down a great brand but also made it harder for them to do their jobs”.

AFP

British Airways Pilots To Embark On Industrial Action

 

British Airways pilots on Friday said they will strike for three days in September in a dispute over pay, in a move that could affect tens of thousands of travellers.

The strikes on September 9, 10 and 27 were announced by the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), which said there had been a 93-percent vote in favour of industrial action.

“It is completely unacceptable that Balpa is destroying the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers with this unjustifiable strike action,” said the airline.

“We are extremely sorry that after many months of negotiations, based on a very fair offer, Balpa has decided on this reckless course of action,” it said.

READ ALSO: 12 Killed As Boko Haram Attacks Niger Village

British Airways said it would change schedules to try and ensure as many people as possible can take their flights but warned that “many” customers will not be able to travel.

“We will be offering refunds and re-bookings for passengers booked on cancelled flights,” it said.

Balpa said the strikes were “a last resort” but added that pilots had made “sacrifice after sacrifice” in recent years.

Balpa estimated each day of strike action would cost the company around £40 million (44 million euros, $49 million).

AFP

Be Prepared For ‘Mother Of All Strikes’, University Workers Tell FG

Members of the national leadership of NASU and SSANU at a press conference in Abuja on August 22, 2019. Inset: SSANU’s National Vice President (North), Mr Solomon Alfa.

 

 

University workers in the country under the umbrella of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) have warned the Federal Government to brace up for an indefinite nationwide strike.

SSANU’s National Vice President (North), Mr Solomon Alfa, disclosed this to at a press conference following a meeting of the Joint Action Committee of both unions on Thursday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

At the end of the meeting, the workers who are on a five-day warning strike asked the government to prepare for what they termed as the “mother of all strikes”.

READ ALSO: NASU, SSANU Commence Warning Strike

The labour leaders are threatening to proceed on a nationwide industrial action barely 24 hours to the expiration of the ongoing one-week strike by the union members.

Both unions had directed their members to commence the warning strike from Monday to Friday in a letter dated August 16 and jointly signed by the General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peters Adeyemi, as well as the National President of SSANU, Mr Samson Ugwoke.

They gave the directive to all branch chairmen of the unions across the country after the 14-day ultimatum they issued to the government expired.

The unions accused the government of failing to show firm commitment towards resolving the issues raised, including the payment of earned allowances to members.

Others are university staff schools matter and the renegotiation of 2009 Agreements.

The Joint Action Committee had warned that the National Executive Councils of the two unions would not hesitate to sanction those who fail to comply with the directive.

NASU, SSANU Commence Warning Strike

SSANU, NASU, NAAT Suspend Indefinite Strike
(Files) The leadership of the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU at a meeting on September 6, 2017 in Abuja.

 

 

Members of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) have commenced a five-day industrial action.

This followed the directive of the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU to all branch chairmen of the unions across the country.

In a letter dated August 16 and jointly signed by the General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peters Adeyemi, as well as the National President of SSANU, Mr Samson Ugwoke, the members were directed to embark on strike from Monday.

READ ALSO: Makinde Appoints EX-Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni As Adviser

The leadership of both unions explained that the industrial action was as a result of the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government.

They also accused the government of failing to show firm commitment towards resolving the issues raised by the unions, including the payment of earned allowances to members.

Others are university staff schools matter and the renegotiation of 2009 Agreements.

“You are hereby directed to embark on a five (5) day strike effective from Monday, 19th to Friday, 23rd August 2019.

“Be informed that the strike is total and comprehensive for the five days. No form of concession or internal arrangement should be made with management while all members must be directed to stay away from their duty posts,” the committee directed members.

It, however, warned that the National Executive Councils of the two unions would not hesitate to sanction those who fail to comply with the directive.

Read the full statement below:

DIRECTIVE ON FIVE DAY NATIONAL STRIKE

Following the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum given to the Government and
its failure to show firm commitment towards resolving the following issues:
1. Payment of Earned Allowances
2. University Staff Schools matter
3. Renegotiation of 2009 Agreements; you are hereby directed to embark on a
five (5) day strike effective from Monday, 19th to Friday, 23rd August 2019.

Be informed that the strike is total and comprehensive for the five days. No
form of Concession or internal arrangement should be made with
Managements while ALL members must be directed to stay away from their
duty posts.

Kindly recall the decision of the National Executive Councils of the two unions
to the effect that Branches that default in compliance should be sanctioned.
The National leadership shall not hesitate in this regard.

You are hereby directed to fully mobilise your members and ensure full
compliance.

Yours in the struggle.

Comrade Peters A. Adeyemi,          JP Comrade Samson C. Ugwoke
General Secretary (NASU)              National President (SSANU)

Hundreds Of Travellers Stranded In Kenyan Airport As Workers Strike

Passengers are blocked from entering Kenya Airways’s departure terminal due to a strike by the airline workers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on March 6, 2019.  Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Hundreds of travellers were stranded at Nairobi’s international airport Wednesday as riot police deployed and teargas was fired to disperse striking workers.

With flights grounded since midnight, passengers were advised Wednesday morning not to come to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) — East Africa’s busiest according to the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) — until further notice.

“Kenya Airways regrettably wishes to inform its customers and the general public that due to the illegal strike by Kenya Aviation Workers Union (KUWA), the airline will be experiencing disruptions in normal flight operations,” a company statement said.

Inside the terminals, strikers faced off with police who fired teargas as they moved in to arrest union officials they accused of inciting workers.

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Passengers waiting for flights, some for hours, were asked to leave the airport and gathered in parking and waiting areas outside the building.

“I have been here since 3:00 am, and there is no flight, there is no information, we have just been told now to wait for communication,” stranded passenger Mercy Mwai told AFP.

Another, Christine, questioned: “why are police using unnecessary force with teargas at an airport?”

Some passengers received medical treatment on-site for tear gas inhalation, according to an AFP journalist at the airport.

The workers, who had not announced their labour action beforehand, are angry about the planned takeover of the airport, operated by the state-run KAA, by national carrier Kenya Airways.

But Transport Minister James Macharia said workers need not worry.

“What they were fearing is that the proposed merger between KQ (the acronym for Kenya Airways) and KAA will result in job losses but we gave assurances that that will not happen,” he told journalists at the airport, and promised flights will resume shortly.

“So this (strike) is completely uncalled for because the deal has not happened.”

According to the KAA, more than 7.6 million passengers and 313,000 tons of cargo passed through JKIA in more than 111,000 aircraft movements in 2017.

The airport contributes just over five percent to Kenya’s gross domestic product.

Kenya Airways chief executive Sebastian Mikosz said 24 departing flights, and two arrivals, were affected by the strike, but “we expect the situation to normalise during the day.”

“We are set to resume operations, although the process is a bit slow,” he said. “Our flights to London, Dubai, and Mumbai will be departing shortly.”

AFP

Economic Activities Grounded In Belgium Over Strike

Union members stand at Brussels national airport in Zaventem, on the outskirts of the Belgium capital, on February 13, 2019, during a national general strike. THIERRY ROGE / BELGA / AFP

 

Belgium slowed to a standstill on Wednesday as a national strike closed airports, shuttered businesses and caused major disruption to railways.

The strike, called by three unions, severely disrupted the country’s public transport, particularly in Brussels, where a meeting of NATO ministers was set to take place.

The national railway company expected half the trains nation-wide would be cancelled because of the movement, but high-speed train traffic to London and Paris should be mostly spared.

The air traffic control agency, Skeyes, announced on Tuesday that it would not allow any flights to or from the country because it could not determine with certainty which employees would come to work.

READ ALSO: French ‘Yellow Vest’ Boxer Faces Trial For Assaulting Police

No aircraft flying below 8,000 metres altitude would be allowed to fly over the country, the agency warned.

Skeyes was not able to say how many flights or how many passengers would be affected.

Unions are calling for higher wages, putting pressure on the right-of-centre government ahead of general elections in May.

Brussels, home to NATO, will be hosting a meeting of defence ministers that day, with officials from throughout the transatlantic military alliance converging on the city.

“We have no indication of any impact of the strike on the meeting,” a NATO official told AFP.

Charleroi airport, the second largest in Belgium and a local hub for low-cost giant Ryanair, had already announced its closure.

Belgium’s Brussels Airlines has cancelled all its 222 flights.

The German carrier TUI fly will operate its scheduled Belgian flights from the nearest French and Dutch airports.

AFP