Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has called for the Gateway scheme, which he termed “exploitation of the long-term unemployed” to be scrapped.
In Budget 2013 the Government introduced the Gateway scheme, designed to make participants work nineteen-and-a-half hours for a top-up of €20 on their Jobseeker’s Allowance.
The Sinn Féin Leader said that the Gateway scheme forces unemployed people to carry out work for local authorities, with threats of cuts or suspension of welfare payments, even though it pays only a fraction of the minimum wage.
He also said that Gateway was being used to undermine real jobs on local authorities
Gerry Adams said:
“Gateway involves no training or education nor any prospect of long-term employment for those being forced to take part.
“Local authorities have been given an allocation of 3,000 places to fill, but if there are 3,000 positions to be filled, citizens working in these positions deserve to have proper terms and conditions.
“Gateway follows on the heels of JobsBridge, a failed government initiative that also exploits welfare recipients with little hope of gainful long-term employment or skills training.
“Gateway is based on the wrong-headed and deeply insulting attitude displayed by Fine Gael TD Jim Daly who told RTÉ last night that Gateway was teaching unemployed people ‘what it is like to get up in the morning’.
“Statements like that demonstrate once again that this Government believes the problem in this state is unemployed people, not unemployment.”
Mr Adams said the Fine Gael/Labour Government had drastically slashed funding to local authorities and imposed a public service recruitment embargo in place, adding:
“In the last year alone, 3,000 jobs have been axed from the Local Authorities. The Government is now trying to fill the gap by using the long term unemployed as cheap labour for local authorities.
"This is exploiting the unemployed.
“Contrast this with €500 million euro taken from the Local Authority budget for Irish Water to spend on consultants and installing water meters, none of which will create sustainable jobs.
“What is needed is resources targeted towards sustainable, long term employment.
“The reality is that Gateway is being used to undermine real jobs on the local authorities. It is really about massaging the unemployment figures. It is doomed to failure and should be discontinued.”