UK Liberty

Unions aren’t keen on ID cards

Posted in ID Cards by ukliberty on July 22, 2008

Financial Times:

Unions have thrown their weight behind airlines and airport operators in lobbying against the proposed roll-out of identity cards to the industry, adding to the political pressures on the government over the contentious scheme.

The Trades Union Congress has told Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, of its “significant and substantive” concerns about the plans for thousands of airport workers to become the first British nationals to be issued with the new biometric cards.

ID cards are due to become compulsory for workers in “sensitive roles” in the airline industry by autumn next year. Ministers claim the cards will prove more secure than the passes and swipe cards being used, in a sector of crucial importance to national security.

How will they be more secure? Surely the cards already being used are only issued after stringent background checks.

But the proposals are running into a wall of opposition. In a protest letter to Ms Smith, ten leading airline chief executives have stressed their “joint and determined opposition” to a proposal they claim will add unnecessary costs and risks to an already secure system.

The TUC is scheduled to meet the home secretary shortly to add its voice to the concerns. Writing to Ms Smith ahead of that meeting, the union body argues: “Unions representing the airport workforce recognise the need for effective security measures but see no evidence that these proposals would enhance airport security arrangements.” …

Is there any group that wants to become Jacqui Smith’s guinea pig? Anyone?

Update

The Telegraph has a bit more of that last paragraph:

[Frances O’Grady, the deputy general secretary of the TUC wrote]: “Unions representing the airport workforce recognise the need for effective security measures, but see no evidence at all that these proposals that these proposals would enhance airport security arrangements.

“They have raised a number of specific issues: the move has significant civil liberties’ implications; that it would not be cost effective, and indeed, appears to impose additional burdens on business and employees with no measurable security benefit.

The Unite union, which represents some airport workers, have also attacked the plans, saying it is wrong that workers should face a £30 charge for an identity card before they can apply for an airside pass.

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