Protesting graduates of the Ijaw and Ilaje ethnicity clashed with soldiers and policemen at the Ekpan premises of Chevron Nigeria Limited in Uvwie Council area near Warri, Delta State on Wednesday.
The youths who were protesting an alleged Chevron’s refusal to convert their indigenes who had completed their 18-month graduate training programme decried the manner they were maltreated by the security team on the instruction of the company.
President of KOMBOT-Egbema/Gbaramatu Graduates Association, Yabrade Moses, and his counterpart from the National Association of Ilaje Graduates, Ikuesan Ademola, said they had staged the protest to express their displeasure over Chevron’s failure to regularise the employment status of its trainees.
They said the trainees were part of Chevron’s VTP5, OPT2 and VTP6 programmes, and as part of the programme, they were supposed to be converted to full staff. However, the company had bluntly refused to give the trainees employment alongside their colleagues from other parts of the country.
“The protest is all about our indigenes that are working in Chevron’s Ogere training; the VTP5, OPT2 and VTP6. For a training of 18 months, they have been kept stagnant for about 4 years now, since March 2013. This is slavery.
“While those taken from the national, at Agbami, have been converted to permanent staff, those taken from our communities are not converted yet, using them as cheap labour or what we call modern day slavery because should anything happen to any of them, Chevron cannot be held liable. This is the major means through which our people can be taken into Chevron.
“The programme was designed to take our people into Chevron, but the company is trying to change the goalpost in the middle of the game. If they had listened to us it would all have ended in dialogue; to see how the people would be converted, discuss and give a time frame they would be converted and see how those on waiting list could be taken, probably see how they could give us our quota from the employments they’ve done so we can get our slots for us to fill those positions.”
They said no amount of intimidation would stop the people from protesting and demanding what rightly belongs to them for the company’s operations in their domain.
The General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, CNL, Mr. Esimaje Brikinn, who had earlier on Monday claimed that the firm did not have any agreement to offer permanent jobs to the trainees after the completion of their training could not be reached for comment on the latest development.