Female of The Species

Posted By Colin Black : Colin Black lives in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. On 2021-05-21 16:52:21

I was surprised to read about a big supermarket taken to court over inequality between male and female wages. I thought paying females a lower wage for similar work had been stamped out a long time ago. About 38000 mostly female shop floor workers took the supermarket chain to the court of appeal and won their case for discrimination between the wages of male and female employees.

While it doesn’t give the shop floor workers an automatic right to have their wages increased in line with the male warehouse workers, it is a step in the right direction. Personally, I think the shop floor workers should be higher paid than warehouse workers. They sit at checkouts all day dealing with all those annoying members of the public coming through the doors, and they deserve a medal. I know I’d rather shunt pallets around a warehouse than deal with bolshie members of the public.

These days, there are many female truck drivers doing a great job, and I believe, for the most part, they make just as much money as male drivers. That being said, it is not as simple as whether you’re a male or female when paying a driver’s wages. Age and experience play a big part in how much certain companies think they can get away with paying. Of course, if the trucks they run are modern, top spec with big power and plenty of chrome, that can turn some younger drivers’ heads to accept less of a wage than most drivers are getting.

When I worked at Glasgow airport for Lep Transport, the firm that took our overnight freight down to London had a woman driver. Amanda was very good at her job, and because female drivers were a bit of a rarity back then, it was suggested that the boss send her to what he considered awkward collections and deliveries. Maybe he reckoned an attractive blonde driver would get a better reception than a male driver with attitude. It worked, and when the company opened a small office across from our depot, Amanda took over its running. She transferred pallets from the overnight London trucks onto local delivery trucks, and just like most truck drivers, she could run an office and drive a fort lift just as well as drive a truck. Unfortunately, she had to leave when her husband lost his licence. She had to give up her job in order to drive him around until he got it back. The young clerks in my office suggested she come into work on her last day with a dress on, and she did. Maybe they were hoping for a mini skirt, but she came in with a nice blue dress that was well down below the knee. After all, she was still jumping on and off the forklift.

But back in the early days, the female of the species were a little less inclined to take a job driving a truck. Most trucks had no power steering or vacuum-assisted hydraulic brakes. And a lot of UK cab overs were built with a wooden frame covered with sheet aluminum or fibreglass. The only thing between the driver and the engine was three sheet metal pieces and maybe an old blanket to deaden the sound and keep out the draughts. The stereotypical driver of the times looked like a bodybuilder, with broad shoulders and big strong arms, not a good look for a woman.

Then Volvo, Scania, Daf, Mercedes and the rest started to import and build trucks with a few more creature comforts like power steering and a car-sized steering wheel. A heater that actually put out some heat, a cab seat with suspension, and when sleeper cabs started to make an appearance, that meant she could sleep in the cab and not in some room with another half dozen snoring male drivers.

The world of the female trucker had finally arrived.