The Workers’ Party has said increased penalties for those who do not take up certain work or training amounts to punishing those already in dire straits for the government’s failure to create jobs.

Workers’ Party Meath representative Seamus McDonagh said the proposed fines of up to €44 for jobseekers labelled as failing to engage with employment services amounts to taking food out of the mouths of people who through no fault of their own were unable to find meaningful work.  It would inevitably push some of these people into homelessness and shatter their already low self-esteem.

Mr. McDonagh said that the much vaunted decline in unemployment was an illusion. “Rather than creating jobs, the government through its so-called activation programme, seeks to push workers into dead-end jobs paying the lowest possible wages and under oppressive work conditions.”

“The government has given a lot of lip-service to its proposal to outlaw zero-hour contracts but has no intention whatsoever of outlawing the modern sweatshop conditions in call centres and a whole range of service areas. The activation programme is the enforcer which pushes people into these employments which are invariably short-term”, said McDonagh

He continued: “Taking €44 a week from the meagre income of jobseekers, especially young people whose welfare payment is already marginal, is this government’s way of starving people into the worst form of precarious jobs.  Once again Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Independent props have excelled in their spitefulness towards jobseekers”.