UNISON has called on the leader of Wokingham Borough Council to clarify whether the authority will continue to support the Black Lives Matter campaign, as a matter of urgency.
The call comes after Cllr John Halsall announced to a council meeting on 16 June that the campaign group had “become a political organisation” and Wokingham Borough Council could not support the movement at the risk of becoming “a political football”.
The union has written to Wokingham Chief Executive Susan Parsonage to raise concerns about Cllr Halsall’s remarks and ask that she consider the message that this sends out to council staff and residents. UNISON are also asking for assurances that Cllr Halsall’s remarks do not represent Council policy, but merely his own views. Central and East Berks UNISON will also be writing to leaders of neighbouring councils to ask them for their support.
Speaking on behalf of UNISON at the council, branch secretary Miriam Palfrey said: “As a union we see first hand the disparity faced by our Black members. We are committed to challenging racism where we find it and to educate when we see ignorant statements that misrepresent people or put up barriers to equality and justice. Members feel angry and hurt at Cllr Halsall’s words and we would like to see him re-examine his position”.