A female road pilot says she and other women are being discriminated against when they attempt to use truck stop showers, with some workers even suggesting prostitution was taking place.

Most larger service stations designed to be truck stops provide shower facilities for truck drivers and pilots who fuel up at their facilities.

East Coast Pilot and Escort Service driver Ali Murray said she had often had trouble gaining access to showers, but her most recent experience at the Caltex Truckstop in north Rockhampton had been particularly humiliating.

Ms Murray said the implication she was a sex worker was clear.

“I did the normal thing, went in and asked for a shower,” she said.

ali murray

“There happened to be a male pilot in front of me asking for a shower. He was in his civvies, so he wasn’t even in his work clothes, and they had no qualms handing him the key and they didn’t say another word to him.

“I did the exact same thing, but she looked me up and down and basically wasn’t going to give me the key, she said ‘who are you and where are you from?’ and I told her I was a pilot.

“She goes ‘well, how many people are you taking in the shower?’ and I said ‘myself’ and she says ‘well, as long as you’re not taking 10 people in there’.”

Ms Murray said the implication she was a sex worker was clear.

“I was kind of embarrassed because all her colleagues were standing around and I’m not sure if they were talking about it after I walked off,” she said.

“I saw the other guy (in the queue) and I said ‘do you ever get hassled about having a shower?’ and he said no, not at all.

“I said ‘I just got the shit hassled out of me then’ and he said ‘yeah, I heard it’ and he said it was wrong and total discrimination.”

Ms Murray said it was not the first time she had encountered such discrimination at truck stops.

She said she was refused access altogether at the BP in Cowra and ended up having to go to a pub in the town.

“Just out of kindness (the pub) let me have a shower, despite me having spent nearly 150 bucks at the truck stop,” she said.

East Coast Pilot and Escort Service director Anthony Lewis said he employed eight men and two women as pilots and none of the men had experienced problems gaining shower access.

Mr Lewis said he believed it to be a case of sexual discrimination.

When contacted by Fairfax Media, a Caltex spokesman said the incident was “deeply concerning and needs to be fully investigated”.

“Caltex values its customers and treats them with the utmost respect – this is a non-negotiable element of being a respected Australian business,” he said.

“This is an absolute commitment that we make to all customers, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or any other factor.

“While this truck stop is operated by a franchisee, we would expect customers to receive the same level of courtesy and respect as they would if they were visiting a Caltex-operated site.

“The comments alleged to have been made to our customer are offensive and not in line with what we would expect of anyone representing the Caltex brand.”

A BP spokeswoman said all truck drivers “and drivers of associated vehicles” were welcome to use the company’s shower facilities.

“BP welcomes all truck drivers to use the shower facilities on site, and only asks for photo identification in exchange for the keys to the facilities,” she said.

“BP regrets any confusion about this matter in this incidence, and would like to invite the driver back to use the shower facilities at any of our locations.”

Extracted in full from Brisbane Times.