An Australian Reader On The A (Asparagus), B (Broccoli) And C (Cheap Labor) Of Illegal Immigration
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Earlier: An Australian Reader Says Australia, Guarded By Unwadeable Seas, Needs To Up Its Airport Screening Game

From: Phil Shannon [Email him]

Who dotes on illegal immigrants more than woke liberals do?  Avaricious employers on the lookout for cheap labor, that’s who.

Australia's largest grower of asparagus and broccoli, Vizzari Farms in the state of Victoria, is currently on trial for hiring dozens of illegal immigrants at illegally low wages as vegetable packers.  Back in 2016, Australian Border Force officers raided Vizzari Farms and discovered 61 immigrants (from Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand) who were “unlawful non-citizens” (i.e., illegal immigrants such as visa overstayers) and a further 28 legal immigrants who were intentionally breaching their holiday visa conditions by working on the company’s farms. 

Recruited through word-of-mouth, and in full knowledge of the immigration illegality involved, the foreign workers were being paid well below the legally mandated rate of pay. [Victorian vegetable grower paid 'vast amounts of cash' for illegal workers, Melbourne court told, by Karen Percy, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, February 27, 2020]

Vizzari Farms is the largest supplier of asparagus and broccoli to Australia’s two biggest supermarkets, where over half of all Australians buy their fruit and veg.  Vizzari Farms’ multi-million-dollar business model of using cheap foreign labor is crucial to their highly profitable market dominance in the supermarket supply chain.  The supermarket giants also benefit from the grower’s cheap foreign labor racket through buying cheaper veg and outcompeting rival retail outlets on price.

Vizzari Farms sits atop what is likely to be a very big iceberg of cheap foreign labor in Australian agriculture.  In 2019, for example, the National Union of Workers investigated some 650 temporary migrant farm workers (mostly from south-east Asia and the Pacific) in Sunraysia and the Goulburn Valley in Victoria, finding that two-thirds of the workers were being paid below the legal pay rate (then $23.66 an hour) with some paid as little as $4.60 an hour.  Two-thirds of the foreign workers did not hold a valid work visa.

It’s out in the heat and the dust of Australia’s farms that this country’s broken visa system can best be viewed. That’s where the cheap, exploitable, often illegal labour is picking and packing the fruit and vegetables that end up on the shelves of Coles and Woolworths, where over 50% of Australians buy their fresh produce.

These two giant retailers have perfected the art of delivering consumers with produce at “low, low prices”— and what’s not to like about low prices? Plenty, as far as some suppliers and farm workers are concerned.

Migrant workers are overworked, intimidated and even killed on Australian farms | Australia's supermarket duopoly sits at the head of a production chain that holds labourers in slave-like conditions, putting them at risk of serious injury or death, by David Hardaker and Chris Woods, July 23, 2019

The woke left’s reflexive, “anti-racist” prostration before saintly, non-white immigrants makes it an ally of law-breaking, a facilitator of corporate profiteering, and an obstacle to jobs and proper wages for Australian workers.  No wonder the traditional, white working class is deserting the contemporary left.  The wages of wokeness is political death.

Phil Shannon is a veteran Australian working class socialist and, since 2016, a supporter. See earlier letters from him here.



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