In the US rail road workers were often paid in such a way that their earnings usually got devoted to their food and board. In todays terms it would be like getting $500 a week but having to spend $495 at the company canteen (usually because there was no other option). Yes it did create some unrest, but not much.
Another example (on the other end of the spectrum) was ranch hands, and cattle drivers. They were often "paid in kind" by having to pay for their food and shelter, among other things. In today's terms it would be like getting a $500 pay check but having to spend $400 on the tools and food you need to get that pay check. There was generally little unrest because it was a life style choice. You got to "live on the open range", and that why you became a ranch hand.
The CCC (civilian conservation core) among other early "welfare programs" also had a way of "paying in kind". They would pay the parents of the kids $25 a week, and the kids would pay room and board, food, and other things from a canteen with their "share" of their wages. They had little extra cash after common things were bought like snacks, smokes, and sundries. In todays terms it would be like getting a $500 pay check sending $400 home and using $75 to stay at a public dorm, and $25 to buy slim-jims and deodorant. Unrest in this program was unheard of. It was generally well received as a great was to educate late teens, that would have otherwise gone homeless, become illiterate, or died. As it was depression era, steady work of any kind was a blessing, and for most involved the educational benifits (basic math and reading) would have been totally out of reach otherwise.
There are a few plans like the CCC in place today. Not focused so much on kids as alternates to welfare and homelessness for adults. Usually focused on mental conditions, drug issues, and other situations where "a hand up" is better then "a hand out". Some are privately run, some are state sponsored. As for labor unrest, generally not, as the people involved are trying to put their lives back together.