Unite union expresses concern over introduction of ID cards

A leading union has voiced its concern over the wider use of biometric information on staff by employers, after home secretary Jacqui Smith announced identity cards for British citizens could be introduced as early as next year.

The national identity scheme will be introduced in November for non-EEA foreign nationals, extending to British citizens in 2009, starting with 200,000 airport workers, Smith said last week.

A spokesperson at airport operator BAA confirmed that it had undertaken exploratory talks with the government on the take-up of ID cards for its staff. The scheme is expected to be extended to Olympics security employees at a later stage.

Smith said: “I am keen to take forward discussions with other groups who operate in positions of trust in our society, which could include Olympics security employees and those involved in protecting our national infrastructure, such as power stations.”

A spokesperson at the Home Office said that details had not been “ironed out”.

Employers are likely to use ID cards to check the identity of new employees against the central population register to ensure they are entitled to work.

However, Steve Turner, national secretary for civil air transport with union Unite, said: “We have serious concerns over the general introduction of identity cards, as well as the gathering and use of biometric information, its storage and potential wider use by both employers and the state.”

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