PT | Representatives of the UK’s aviation workers say they are being used as political pawns to further the UK government’s controversial ID cards programme.
The British Air Transport Association (BATA) says aviation workers are being used as guinea pigs for the scheme. ID cards for airside workers, those who work beyond airport security checks, will become compulsory in 2009.
Roger Wiltshire, secretary general of BATA, says, “We do feel we’re being used politically. The government intends a creeping introduction, to [lend the cards credibility]. We will be the first industry to have compulsory ID passes, even before the voluntary scheme is in place.”
About 100,000 UK airport workers with airside access are likely to be the first to be issued with Britain’s new biometric identity cards.
A spokesman for UK airport operator BAA says, “We can confirm that we are in preliminary discussions on ID cards.”
UK Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is expected to announce proposals for the initial rollout of the scheme this week. However, the opposition Conservative Party claims that the UK government is introducing ID cards by stealth by making them compulsory in some areas, including that of airport security.
The controversial scheme is estimated to cost £5.4 billion (US$$10.8 billion).
The UK’s Home Office says, “We are looking at starting [to issue ID cards] to certain parts of the population and rolling out the programme incrementally, and it’s right that our first priority should be to consider where ID cards can be of greatest benefit to the security of the UK.”