Indonesian police fire tear gas at protesters

Security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at rowdy protesters in the Indonesian capital Wednesday, after they hurled stones at police and tore down a gate in front of parliament.

Tens of thousands of workers turned out for the rally, protesting government plans to make changes to a 2003 labor law, which businesses claim discourages investment by making it hard to fire employees.

Workers say the revisions would chip away at job security.

The demonstration,  the latest in a series in recent weeks, turned violent after some of the protesters started setting tires on fire on a toll road near the heavily-guarded parliament.

Some lobbed rocks at police, while other pressed up against the main iron gate surrounding the building, shaking it back and forth until it toppled over.

"Don't change the laws," the factory workers shouted, many of them from industrial towns on Jakarta's outskirts.

Security forces responded by firing tear gas and water cannons at the crowd. Smoke bellowed from the scene, as a police helicopter hovered overhead.

It was not immediately clear if anyone was hurt.

The labor law was passed by Indonesia's first democratically elected parliament after the downfall of ex-dictator Suharto, who brutally repressed trade unions and gave workers few rights.

But critics and business leaders say lawmakers went too far in accommodating workers' concerns, and it is now too expensive to fire unskilled or errant workers and does not allow companies to be flexible to changes in the economy, reports the AP.

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