UNION chiefs are demanding a Sandwell College lecturer - who was sacked by Halesowen College six years ago - is reinstated to his latest job after being dismissed for gross misconduct.

Maths lecturer David Muritu was sacked last week after allegedly writing the word 'racist' on an anti-terrorism poster on display at the Spon Lane college.

The poster was promoting the Prevent scheme, which details the legal duty for teachers to report students who show signs of being radicalised.

Sandwell College described the incident as a 'serious disciplinary matter' but the UCU (University and College Union) says the educational institution has overreacted.

The UCU says Mr Muritu - its local branch secretary, who played a key role in negotiating a landmark pay deal for staff last year - is being victimised because of his trade union activities.

And the union has threatened industrial action if the college's 'heavy-handed and disproportionate response' is not reversed.

UCU acting general secretary, Paul Cottrell, said: "The college has lost all sense of proportion in dealing with Mr Muritu’s case.

"The incident was clearly a moment of frustration for which he has apologised, but the college has refused to budge from its hardline position.

"The college has acknowledged that his actions didn’t bring the college into disrepute, so it seems this incident is being used as an excuse to attack Mr Muritu for his trade union activities.

"We will not simply stand by and allow this to happen, and the college should be prepared to face industrial action if the decision is not swiftly reversed."

Mr Muritu was one of four lecturers sacked in 2013 by Halesowen College, who cited poor exam results among other reasons for his dismissal.

His sacking led to protests from students and staff but he ultimately departed amid heavy criticism from top brass at Halesowen College.

In an interview with BBC radio this week, Mr Muritu admitted to drawing on the poster at Sandwell College and apologised for his actions but said he believes the 'Prevent' scheme unfairly targeted Muslims.

MPs and the Muslim Council of Britain have criticised the project since its inception with many claiming it heightens the chance of stigmatisation for Muslim students.

UCU has launched a petition calling on Sandwell College to reinstate Muritu and a branch of the union is set to demonstrate outside the college on Friday (June 7).

A Sandwell College spokesperson said: "Safeguarding is of paramount importance to everybody at Sandwell College.

"We expect everybody to act professionally, ensuring that we adhere to our statutory duties whilst creating the best possible environment for all of our students and staff to thrive.

"Although we do not share details of internal HR matters, it is important to note that we recently conducted a thorough investigation into a serious disciplinary matter which resulted in the decision being made to terminate the employment of a member of staff.

"They, of course, have the right to appeal and therefore it would not be right for us to say any more at this time.

"The college has been notified that UCU wish to enter into a dispute with the college following the dismissal of the staff member.

"The college does not accept and refutes UCU comments. The college has taken necessary steps to minimise the impact of any action and will continue to operate as normal."