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Jakarta police fire tear gas at labours

By Staff
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JAKARTA, May 3: Indonesian police fired tear gas at thousands of labour protesters today after they broke down part of a metal fence outside parliament and pelted police with missiles.

The protesters were rallying against government plans to revise employment laws that business executives say tilt too far in workers' favour, making Indonesia uncompetitive and inciting investors to place their funds elsewhere.

Police hid behind plastic shields as protesters hurled a variety of objects their way, and fired tear gas after the rowdy crowd added pieces of the fence to their arsenal, witnesses said.

More than 30,000 people took part in the Jakarta rally, the latest of a series of protests as militant unions demand the government simply drop its attempt to modify the 2003 labour law.

Workers have been lobbying several legislators, seeking confirmation that they will oppose the government's proposed changes when they are put before parliament.

The government and many of its supporters in the chamber, elected in 2004, want to amend the law to give employers more flexibility, curb strikes and ease back on severance payments for sacked workers, currently among the world's most generous.

But after the initial wave of protests over the issue last month, the government said it would have academics review the draft and hold further discussions with labour and business.

REUTERS

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