UNION chiefs are asking staff at Sandwell College to go on strike over demands a 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 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.

Mr Muritu is appealing, but the UCU (University and College Union) said the college’s refusal to budge from its hardline position had left his colleagues with no option but to ballot for action.

The strike ballot will open on Friday 21 June and close on Friday 12 July.

There will also be a march outside the college on Saturday (June 22) calling for Muritu’s reinstatement.

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.

UCU acting general secretary, Paul Cottrell, said: "The heavy-handed response to Dave’s actions by Sandwell College was completely out of line and the widespread condemnation from staff, students and politicians is no surprise.

‘By the college’s own admission, Dave’s actions didn’t bring the college into disrepute, so it appears that he is being singled out for his trade union activities.

"The fact the college refuses to budge from its hardline position has left staff with no option but to ballot for strike action."

Mr Muritu was one of four lecturers sacked in 2013 by Halesowen College, which 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, 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.

A spokesman for Sandwell College said: "As with all colleges, Sandwell College takes its Government statutory safeguarding and prevent duties very seriously and has the same high expectation of its staff.

"We pride ourselves on promoting our core values of respect, tolerance and promoting diversity in a positive manner.

"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.

"Mr. Muritu has now appealed this decision and we are now following the appropriate HR processes, therefore it would not be right for us to say any more at this time.

"The college has been notified and is disappointed that UCU wish to enter into a ballot for industrial action despite internal processes not yet being exhausted.

"The college has taken necessary steps to minimise the impact of any action and will continue to operate as normal."