And now the line is drawn in the sand:
Airline pilot leaders today accused the government of using airport workers as ‘guinea pigs’ for identity cards and warned they would not co-operate with the scheme.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said ID cards had ‘absolutely no value’ for security and claimed pilots were being ‘coerced’ into using them.
‘Promises that ID cards would be voluntary have been broken,’ said general secretary Jim McAuslan.
‘Forcing pilots to have ID cards is an affront to the people who for years have been, and continue to be, at the forefront in the battle against terrorist outrages.’
Balpa has written to the Identity and Passport Service, as well as to management at Manchester airport and London City airport – the first two locations for the introduction of ID cards.
Mr McAuslan said workers who refused to accept the cards face being sacked. ‘This could be an individual who has served his or her country as a service pilot being told they are not now trusted,’ he added.
‘This is both unacceptable and demeaning and we will resist.’
Balpa said in its submissions: ‘It is clear that the government’s staged introduction of biometric identity cards first to overseas students, then to migrant workers and then for aviation workers represents a way of picking off what is seen as easy or compliant targets.’
But, an IPS spokesperson said it remained committed to working closely with the aviation industry and trade unions to introduce cards for airside workers. Discussions with individual airports would continue to establish which employees would ‘initially’ be required to have them.
If these guinea pigs all say no, then the experiment is a failure.
BLOGDIAL pledges, right now, to contribute £100 to any legal fund supporting pilots prosecuted for refusing ID cards.