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British pilots ramp up opposition to ID cards

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The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) is meeting this weekend to decide what action to take over the government's decision to force airside staff at two airports to carry ID cards.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced the downsized trial at City of London and Manchester airports earlier this year.

The UK's major airlines said at the time their industry was being used for "political purposes on a project which has questionable public support." They also said the scheme would add nothing to existing security.

Now pilots themselves - who presumably have to pack plenty of ID already, as well as a shiny hat - have voiced their opposition to the plan.

A spokesman for Balpa said: "The government should think again on this. We're talking to other airside unions and many agree with us that it is unfair, especially because Parliament originally passed this legislation on the basis that it would be voluntary but now it is compulsory for some groups to carry a card."

He said Balpa would talk to its members before suggesting a vote on possible industrial action. Balpa represents 10,000 UK pilots.

The Tory party and the LibDems have pledged to abandon the embattled ID card scheme.

Wacky Jacqui meanwhile continues to claim that she can hardly leave the house without being pestered by people desperate to get their hands on an ID card all of their own.

Her faith in biometrics does not appear to have been shaken by lobby group No2ID which claimed to have borrowed a set of her fingerprints earlier this month.

An Identity Passport Service spokesperson sent us the following:

"The Government remains committed to working in close partnership with the aviation industry and trade unions to introduce identity cards for airside workers.

"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."

And the workers will get to enjoy the benefit whether they want to or not: "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.”®

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