The British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) has warned the Government to think again about forcing pilots and other airport workers to hold the new National Identity Card.

Said BALPA General Secretary Jim McAuslan:'The Government's early warning system should be flashing over our opposition to the plan.'

Parliament passed the measure on the basis that the ID cards would be voluntary. However on Friday (November 21) Ministers are expected to publish draft regulations to set up a trial requiring airside staff at Manchester and London City airports to sign up for an ID card before they can get security passes to work there.

Said Jim McAuslan: 'We have explained time after time why the ID cards will not improve airport security. The Government is just seeking to use our members as guinea pigs.'

BALPA is holding its annual conference at Heathrow this weekend and delegates will discuss the union's reaction to the Government's intransigence.

'If the regulations are approved, and if pilots who refuse to register for an ID card are thereby denied access airside to their aircraft, putting their jobs at risk, there will be widespread anger,' Jim McAuslan declared.

'We want to avoid an industrial dispute, we want the Government to think again. We are consulting our lawyers and will determine our future action.'

For further details contact Keith Bill on 020 8656 0860 or 07968 528 527