Women’s voices fi­nally be­ing heard

Big Rigs - - GREAT AMERICAN TRUCKING SHOW -

DE­SIREE Wood had a mes­sage for Aus­tralian women work­ing in truck­ing who feel like they are strug­gling to have their voices heard – never give up.

Speak­ing at a ses­sion on le­gal rights at GATS 2018, the head of the ad­vo­cacy group Real Women in Truck­ing, De­siree shared how her per­sis­tence against seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble odds is start­ing to pay off.

“When I en­tered truck­ing in 2007 I had a lot of prob­lems in my train­ing, like a lot of other driv­ers had,” De­siree said.

“I tried to reach out to an­other or­gan­i­sa­tion and I was si­lenced.

“In the last 10 years I found that many, many women have been blocked, si­lenced, told to not talk about what’s hap­pen­ing to them when they were go­ing through team driv­ing in mixed gen­der teams to pull team freight. They were told that the only women who get recog­nised are the ones who serve in si­lence and my mem­ber­ship was re­voked.”

De­siree said there is now a groundswell of other like-minded groups spring­ing up to form a coali­tion of sorts to help give women in truck­ing all over the US a united voice against things like sex­ual ha­rass­ment, as­sault re­tal­i­a­tion dur­ing truck driver train­ing, lease fraud, stu­dent truck driver ex­ploita­tion, and black­list­ing.

Real Women in Truck­ing it­self now has a bud­get of US$26,000 and has been quoted in ma­jor main­stream me­dia out­lets around the world.

“We are driv­ers and we did this, while we’re driv­ing full-time, so I want ev­ery­one who says we don’t have a voice, to know you have a voice, you do.

“You’ve just got to put in some ef­fort and don’t wait for these big­ger or­gan­i­sa­tions to speak for you. They are not speak­ing for you.”

RWIT’s most high pro­file re­cent bat­tle is the un­seal­ing of doc­u­ments in a class ac­tion law­suit case against long-haul car­rier CRST.

Over the next few months De­siree plans to pub­lish blog posts to sum­marise some of these doc­u­ments to help peo­ple bet­ter un­der­stand what has been oc­cur­ring in this fleet.

She says it is now time to hold the truck­ing in­dus­try ac­count­able and de­mand sweep­ing change with re­gards to the sex­ual mis­con­duct that oc­curs in sev­eral en­try level driver train­ing fleets that re­quire team driv­ing.

“No­body should have to go into a train­ing pro­gram and be pet­ri­fied of the per­son they’re in the truck with,” she said.

PHOTO: JAMES GRAHAM

PROUD DRIVER: First-time com­peti­tor Bart Boudreaux with the 1980 Peter­bilt he re­stored to its for­mer glory.

PHOTO: JAMES GRAHAM

Real Women in Truck­ing founder De­siree Wood.

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