No fewer than 1,650 ExxonMobil contract staff have staged a protest, barricading the company’s housing estate in Eket Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State demanding their unpaid entitlements.
The spokesperson of the group, Mr. Christian Assam, told newsmen on Wednesday that ExxonMobil through the National Engineering and Technical Company Limited (NETCO) engaged the youths to upgrade cables at the Qua Iboe Terminal.
He said the contract involved the upgrading of all cables in Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT), noting that the contract was titled QIT Power Distribution Upgrading Project (QPDUP) in the state.
He further said though the youths worked for NETCO, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil for six years, the company refused to pay the workers their entitlements when the contract ended adding that the group has held series of meetings with ExxonMobil, saying the last of such meetings held on Monday, December 8th, but ended in deadlock.
According to him, “we had a meeting with ExxonMobil yesterday through the invitation of the Ministry of Environment and Petroleum Resources and the meeting was supposed to bring a lasting resolution in favour of parties but it was inconclusive.
“Let ExxonMobil who gave the contract to NETCO give us our entitlements for the project we have executed this year. All of a sudden, ExxonMobil said they can not sit with the workers and that they haven’t concluded entitlements of the workers in the state.”
In its reaction, the Manager, Media and Communications of ExxonMobil, Mr Ogechukwu Udeagha, said Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (NNPC/MPN) Joint Venture has no obligation to staff of a third party contractors.
He stressed that ExxonMobil does not involve itself in any contractual agreements/discussions between the parties.
He said, “Please refer all further inquiries to the contractor company referenced in your inquiry and the relevant government security agencies. “We remain committed to contributing to the health, safety and economy of our communities”.
Also, the Police Public Relations Officer, SP Odiko Macdon said the police would not condone any form of violent protest in the state.
He urged the youths to resolve their matter with the authorities involved rather than embark on protest.
His words, “no violence protest is allowed in the state,we have nothing to do with ExxonMobil, there are better channels of resolving matters rather than embarking on protest.”