The party’s social protection spokesman, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, raised the issue in the Dáil as he urged ministers to rethink the Gateway initiative.
The scheme, which is set to involve 3,000 long-term unemployed people by the end of the year, does not provide an educational focus or hold out the prospect of full-time work, Mr Ó Snodaigh said.
“Gateway is a supposed job activation measure for local authorities,” he said. “We have opposed it because we believe that it is exploiting people, both young and old. People who are two years unemployed, the long-term unemployed.
“The exploitation comes from the fact that the only thing they will gain comes from spending 22 months on a Gateway scheme and they will get an extra €20 a week.
“There is no component part of training in Gateway and nothing extra in terms of employability at the end of it. The other aspect is that this has a potential to undermine terms and conditions of workers.”
A spokesman for Social Protection Minister Joan Burton insisted the initiative is a valuable aid to help get people back into employment.
“Research has shown that spells of long-term unemployment on a CV can make it much harder to get back to work,” said the spokesman.
“The aim of Gateway is to help participants overcome this by bridging the gap between unemployment and re-entering the workforce. Participants can expect to be provided with good-quality working opportunities that harness their skills and bring them back into active work.”