Campaigners stage protest at Sandwell College for sacked lecturer
Protesters gathered outside Sandwell College to demonstrate against the sacking of a maths lecturer.
Dave Muritu was dismissed for gross misconduct after he wrote the word "racist" on a poster promoting the Prevent anti-terrorism programme.
He says the decision was heavy-handed and has lodged an appeal.
He has been backed by the University and College Union (UCU), which has launched a petition calling for his reinstatement that has received more than 5,000 signatures.
Around 50 people demonstrated outside the college's Spon Lane site yesterday, including staff, activists and trade unionists such as Dudley councillor and Labour's West Midlands Mayoral hopeful Pete Lowe.
Mr Muritu told the Express & Star he was accused of "seriously damaging" college property when he wrote on a poster promoting the Prevent programme, which requires institutions to report concerns they have over people getting drawn towards extremism.
The 48-year-old, who has taught maths at the college for six years, said he was "not having a good day" when he saw the poster on display and wrote the word "racist" across it.
He said he opposes the Prevent strategy, saying it "should not be in our college" as it "targets Muslim students".
"I know I was wrong to write what I did and went back to take it down but it had already been removed," he said.
He says he attended an investigation meeting after being informed that he had been caught on camera. He said he apologised but was told in a letter last week that he had been dismissed for gross misconduct.
Mr Muritu, from Kings Heath, says he is appealing the decision, which he believes has been influenced by his activities as a representative for the UCU.
"They say I seriously damaged college property, which was basically a paper copy of a poster," he said.
"I don't think that warrants a dismissal. It is heavy-handed. This is an excuse to sack me for my trade union activities. We have been successful in improving working conditions at the college and they don't like that."
Mr Muritu says he has been involved in a number of activities that have infuriated college bosses.
They include leading a five-day strike that resulted in an improved pay deal, securing changes to a monitoring system for lecturers to make it more supportive, gaining additional holidays for staff as well as the reinstatement of incremental payment progressions.
He says the changes have "brought conditions up" to be on par with the rest of the sector.
"I love my job and enjoy working in FE," he said. "I would urge the college to climb down from this position and give me my job back.
"They have been targeting me for a few years and have used this opportunity to get rid of me."
Sandwell College said it had conducted "a thorough investigation into a serious disciplinary matter" which resulted in a member of staff being sacked.
"It would not be right for us to say any more at this time," a spokesperson added.