The graduates, under the aegis of KOMBOT-Egbema and Gbaramatu Graduates Association, said they took the decision following the failure of Chevron to convert them into full members of staff after completing their 18-month graduate training programme with the oil giant.
In a statement signed by their President and Secretary, Mr. Yabrade Moses and Asoki Victor Warebi respectively, on Monday, the graduates lamented that after the completion of their programme they were still being retained as trainees when they ought to have been converted into permanent workers in line with the terms of the programme.
The statement read in part, “We, the undersigned for and on behalf of KOMBOT-Egbema & Gbaramatu Graduates Association, wish to emphatically state that Chevron Nigeria Limited should within 48 hours confirm the VTP5/OTP2, VTP6 Operator/Maintenance Trainees of Chevron Nigeria Limited as permanent workers or face a mass action that might cripple their operations in Egbema and Gbaramatu kingdom which are host to the CNL.
“The trainees are since overdue for conversion to permanent workers after 18 months of training, rather they are still being retained as trainees on the job as a means of cheap labour, for the past four years, which is totally unacceptable to us.
“The trainees should be regularised as soon as possible to avoid the inevitable danger awaiting Chevron Nigeria Limited due to the company’s management nonchalant attitude towards the reclassification of the trainees as members of staff, the non-intake of the 2014 awaiting batch and other crucial employment issues.”
It noted that the leadership of Egbema and Gbaramatu Kingdoms had written several letters and met with the management of the company on the issue but Chevron was rather interested in keeping the youths for cheap labour instead of being given full employment.
“It is on record that a series of letters have been written and meetings held with the CNL, government representatives and security agents as regards the conversion of VTP5/OTP2 trainees and other employment issues but the CNL kept mute and has instead converted those trainees termed national from Agbami field to permanent members of staff long ago leaving our indigenes as slave labourers.
“On this note, we are embarking on a mass action against the CNL in solidarity with our brothers that are being used as cheap labourers any moment from now. Except their conversion to permanent workers is confirmed and our employment deficiency addressed within 48 hours as to avert the impending action. The issue of contract extension should not be mentioned again, if the CNL wants to maintain peace in their host communities of operation,” the group added.
Reacting, the General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, CNL, Mr. Esimaje Brikinn, said the firm did not have any agreement to offer permanent jobs to the trainees after the completion of their training.
He said the CNL had reported the threat to its operations to the appropriate authorities to safeguard its workforce and the communities where it had operations.
“… At no time did CNL represent or guarantee that it would hire the trainees at the time of graduation from the programme. The trainees are contracted by the training provider, Prime Atlantic Cegelec Nigeria Limited, and each trainee has a contract for an on-the-job-learning trainee position at a CNL production facility.”