Home > Illegal worker crackdown could lead to fruit and veg price hike

Illegal worker crackdown could lead to fruit and veg price hike

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Following recent raids of illegal workers across farms in Western Australia, supplies of fruit and vegetables are starting to dwindle, leading to potential price rises across the state.

Fruit and vegetable fields in the Carabooda area north of Wanneroo are reported to have been sitting idle for days as growers struggle to find replacement workers for 190 illegal farm workers who have been taken into custody over the past week, The West reports.

"It's not just the people who have been detained - other foreigners who are allowed to work are not turning up because they are fearful and don't really know what is happening," said a leading WA wholesale who asked to remain anonymous.

The wholesaler said that crops of Asian vegetables were down by 75 percent and that other popular crops such as broccoli and lettuce were down by 30 percent. They also stressed that the shortage in produce will inevitably lead to higher prices which could be felt by consumers over the next few months.

Carabooda avocado grower and former liberal MP Mal Washer said that he has only ever employed legal workers on his farm despite illegal workers costing 2.5 times less on average.

He said that farms that have relied on illegal labour over extended periods will most probably find it difficult to stay in business.

"Your number one cost is your labour cost and if we get a rise in costs they (supermarkets) are not that keen on letting us pass it on to them," said Washer.

"We [the growers] are price takers."

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