Two years on from shouldering most of the heavy lifting through Covid, too many truckies are still getting the short end of the stick when it comes to basic amenities.
Road Freight NSW chief executive Simon O’Hara shared one such story to his members in a recent bulletin under the heading of Dignity and Respect for all Truckies!
O’Hara said an experienced interstate driver for Winston Express Haulage was heading to Lightning Ridge from Sydney with a B-double load last week when they made a rest stop at the Shell Gunnedah around 7pm.
The truckie, one of just a few drivers there at the time, entered via the front entrance and went to the counter to ask for the key to use the toilet and their shower, writes O’Hara.
“The Shell attendant said words to the effect of: ‘the facilities were only for truck drivers’. Our truckie said to the Shell attendant, ‘I am a truckie and I just pulled up in a B-double’.
“Our truckie was dressed in a high-vis company shirt, work pants and boots.
“The Shell service station attendant again reiterated that the facilities were only for truckies and asked for our truckie to point out their truck on the video camera monitor.
“Our truckie leaned over and pointed it out on screen and said words to the effect of: ‘you would have seen me pull up. I’m the white Kenworth B-double just there’.
“The Shell attendant’s offsider said to the attendant serving our truckie that ‘they are a truckie’. The keys for the toilet were handed over by the Shell service station attendant.
“Five minutes later our truckie returns and requests to use the shower.
“Again, the same Shell attendant said words to the effect of: ‘these are only for truckies’.
O’Hara said the driver again explained that they were indeed a truckie.
“The Shell attendant asked for proof re-iterating that the facilities were only for truckies and asked our truckie to show their licence. A valid licence was produced and handed over to the Shell attendant for inspection. Proof that our truckie was indeed a truckie.
“Further conversation ensued whereby our truckie again pointed out which truck they were driving and that they wanted to use the shower facilities because it was a hot day and they had to head to Lightning Ridge for a delivery the next day.
“And requested again with words to the effect of: ‘can I have the keys, please?’
In the end, O’Hara said the truckie simply had enough.
“Access to showers didn’t seem to be forthcoming. Our truckie left humiliated with the way they had been treated. No shower and no food.
“Afterwards, I had a chat with the truckie as they were travelling close to Merah North near Wee Waa and had a text exchange with the freight owner about their experience.
“Our operator texted me to say: ‘They carried on that much that our truckie walked out. This is not right! After all the good our industry is doing in this pandemic and the crap we have to go through this is another blow and shouldn’t happen’.
Added O’Hara: “That night our truckie used an old bucket from the truck and filled it up with water from a tap on the side of the road and used one of the old microfibre clothes (used to wipe down the truck) to try and clean themselves down before getting some rest in the cab for the delivery and splitting of the loads the next day.”
The truckie’s dinner was a snack bar found in the cab, as nothing is open at Lightning Ridge at 1am in the morning.
“Denying a truckie the human right of the use of basic facilities with some dignity is bad enough,” said O’Hara.
“But, would your view about their refusal to treat our truckie with dignity be any different if I was to reveal that the truckie was a woman. A woman who has raised three kids and has driven trucks for years. A woman who knows and loves trucks and is a part of a family of truckies.
“Our operator asks whether our truckie was not able to use the shower facilities because she is a woman or a truckie?
“If our truckie was a 6 foot bloke asking to use the facilities, whether they would have encountered the same problems at the Gunnedah Shell Service station?
“I will let you be the judge.”
O’Hara said he has reached out to Shell, the NHVR and TfNSW for a response.
Big Rigs also contacted Shell and was told the Gunnedah service station in question is under the management of Liberty Oil.
We’re still waiting for a response.
It’s not the first time that this service station has come our attention for its treatment of truckies.
Late last year, we fielded several complaints from drivers who told us they’d been refused access to shower facilities there.
WA Senator Glenn Sterle also took management to task as part of his on-going campaign to clean up the nation’s sub-standard rest stop amenities.