AIRLINE pilots will resist the ID card scheme ‘with all legal means possible’, according to their union Balpa.
The scheme is to be trialled at Manchester and London City Airports but Balpa said its members were overwhelmingly against it.
Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said the scheme was not voluntary as pilots had learned that they would not get a pass to go to the through-security airside part of an airport without having an ID card.
“This is coercion and a case of Big Brother knows best,” he added.
On The Guardian website, Mr McAuslan went on: “Our members are overwhelmingly against the Government’s national ID card scheme trials for pilots and other airside workers, and we will resist the card with all legal means possible.
“Our members believed the Government promise that the ID card would be voluntary, but they now know it is anything but. Our members must have an airside pass to operate aircraft and now discover that to get that pass they must have a national ID card.
“They are told ‘You don’t actually have to have one’ but no card equals no pass, which equals no job. This is coercion and, by trialling the scheme in Manchester and London City Airports, the Government is clearly attempting to isolate pockets of resistance.”
Mr McAuslan continued: “Our members see the regular stories of Government data going missing or falling into the wrong hands. Like every other citizen, they ask themselves what will happen to the data they are coerced into providing; whether it will it be safe, whose hands might it fall into, and what might they do with the data?
“Yes, there have been lots of reassuring noises, but frankly we don’t believe them. Our members, who aim to be the ultimate professionals, increasingly have a sense that a line is being crossed in the relationship between state and citizen; a sense that Big Brother knows best.”
An Identity and Passport Service spokesman said: “The Government remains committed to working in close partnership with the aviation industry and trade unions to introduce identity cards for airside workers.
“Balpa have come to us with their concerns and we have spoken to them a number of times about how we can work with industry to resolve these.”
The spokesman continued: “Identity cards will directly benefit airside workers – not just by improving personnel security, but also by speeding up pre-employment checks and increasing the efficiency of pass issuing arrangements, making it easier for these workers to take up their posts and move from one airside job to another.
“Identity cards will be mandatory for all airside workers, just as other pre-employment checks are today, so that the benefits from the scheme can be realised across the aviation sector. We will work with each airport to agree exactly which employees would initially be subject to this requirement and how it would best be integrated into the pre-employment checking and pass issuing arrangements at that airport.”