The TUC in Brighton, has pledged to resist the identity scheme “with all means at its disposal”.  The motion was carried overwhelmingly.
This puts unions on a collision course with the government over civil liberties, and contrasts with the government spin that “unions approve ID cards”  issued after the Labour Party National Policy Forum at Warwick at the end of July.
The motion, from the airline pilots’ union, BALPA draws particular attention to the Home Office plans timetabled for next year on to force airside workers to register on the National Identity Register for life, as a condition of having a job.
But there are implications for everyone in employment. An astonished TUC fringe meeting on Monday evening heard from Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID , of the provisions in the Identity Cards Act 2006 that ministers have confirmed could mean 10 years imprisonment for industrial action that might interfere with the operation of the ID database.
“Unions certainly did not approve that, even if 304 Labour MPs saw fit to vote for it. The Tolpuddle Martyrs got shorter sentences, and that was a public outrage in an era when you could be hanged for stealing goods worth a shilling,” he said.
Herbert said of today’s vote:
“The Home Office has almost given up pretending that its ID scheme is necessary for national security. Those involved in aviation security day-to-day don’t believe it. Now the plan is that ID will confront us in the workplace – as a form of official permission to earn a living. We are delighted that the unions and their members will be ready to fight it.”
Notes for editors:
1) TUC Agenda is online at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/congress/tuc-15221-f0.pdf
Motion 45 text in full is:
45 National Identity Scheme
Congress notes that the Government proposes to require workers in aviation to enrol in the National Identity Scheme in 2009. Congress has deep concerns about the implications of the National Identity Scheme in general and the coercion of aviation workers into the scheme in particular. Congress sees absolutely no value in the scheme or in improvements to security that might flow from this exercise and feels that aviation workers are being used as pawns in a politically led process which might lead to individuals being denied the
right to work because they are not registered or chose not to register in the scheme.
Congress pledges to resist this scheme with all means at its disposal, including consideration of legal action to uphold civil liberties.
British Air Line Pilots’ Association
3) NO2ID is the UK-wide non-partisan campaign against ID cards and the database state. See http://www.no2id.net/dbstate.php for a list of ‘database state’ initiatives that NO2ID is actively opposing.
4) The provisions form s29 of the Identity Cards Act 2006
When this point was raised in parliament Baroness Amos confirmed for the Government that this is a valid interpretation – “absolutely right in their analysis” (Lords Hansard 21 Mar 2005 Col.105) but it has never been mentioned again and the opportunity to redraft it was not taken. Anyone, anywhere information from the database is used could be affected.