The group, Kombot-Egbema & Gbaramatu Graduates Association, gave the company 48 hours to upgrade the status of its members from trainee to “permanent staff” or risk having its operations in the region shut down.

In a statement issued on Monday and signed by its president, Yabrade Moses, the group said some of its members had been retained as trainees for four years, which it added was a plot by Chevron to continue using cheap labour.

“We 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 staff or face a mass action that might cripple their operations in Egbema and Gbaramatu kingdom which are host to CNL.

"The trainees are since overdue for conversion to permanent staff basis after 18 months, 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 statement read.

“The trainees should be regularised as soon as possible to avoid the inevitable danger awaiting Chevron Nigeria Limited due the company’s management nonchalant attitudes towards the reclassification of the trainees as staff, the non-intake of the 2014 awaiting batch and other crucial employment issues".

Attempts to reach officials and the spokesperson of the oil firm proved abortive. Also staff of the firm kept repeating the same phrase "no comment". 

Oil exploring companies in the oil rich region have been serially accused of neglecting indigenes and preferring to hire foreigners to do certain tasks.