The Warri refinery has been shut down as commercial activities at the company have been put on hold over grievances expressed by the company’s support staffs.
It’s been reported that on Wednesday, hundreds of youths and about 500 support staff shut down commercial activities at the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, Ekpan, Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, over alleged management’s failure to regularize their engagements.
According to some of the protesters, they vowed that until the management of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation wades into the matter and immediately resolve the issue; commercial activities will not commence in the Warri refinery; they vowed to continue with their protest and ensure that major activities at the refinery remain paralyzed until NNPC immediately resolves the issue.
The protesters who had all entrances into the refinery under lock and key, accused the management of NNPC of reneging on an agreement to convert the contract staff into full staff of the company, these casual workers, that include members of the host communities (Ekpan, Ubeji, Aja-Etan, Ifie-Kporo and Ijala-Ikeren), rebuffed all efforts by security operatives who included policemen and officers of the Nigerian Army, to make them vacate the major entrance into the refinery.
While speaking to journalists, the National Secretary of the Itsekiri National Youth Council, Jemi Mene-Ejegi, told journalists that they would not vacate the premises until Managing Director of NNPC visits the refinery to address the matter.
“Initially, we wrote a letter and they called us, excluding the casual staff, that the issue will be resolved.
“We told them to attend to the casual staff first. The second time, the same thing happened, which prompted the first protest.”
However, the NNPC spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, denied any discrimination in the corporation’s recruitment process, when he was asked about the conversion agreement, he said that he was not aware of any agreement to convert casual workers to full employee.
“We have been announcing the various stages of recruitment. In that advertisement, it was thrown open for all the staff and they were asked to apply. How many of them applied?
“The casuals were also invited; but that aside, we have engaged them. We told them that after this exercise, there is another stage.
“If they didn’t fall into the first category, they may fall into the second category. That is what we are on. We don’t have casuals only in Warri Refinery, we have casuals in all of our subsidiaries, including the headquarters and many of them applied, and they are undergoing interviews now.
“There’s no discrimination in the process. I am not aware if there was any agreement with them.
“I’m appealing to them to exercise restraint. We’ll continue to engage them to ensure that amicable resolution is reached.”