• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Protesters storm BlackRock’s Paris office holding red flares and firing smoke bombs

On Thursday, protesters entered the building where BlackRock’s office in Paris is located, to demonstrate against the government’s pension reforms. BlackRock is the world’s largest money manager.

Protesters were seen in videos shared on social media entering the Centorial office block, which is situated close to the Opéra Garnier opera house. They held red flares and discharged smoke bombs.

Around 100 individuals, among them members of various labor unions, gathered on the first floor of the building and chanted slogans against reforms for approximately 10 minutes. BlackRock’s office can be found on the third floor.

“The meaning of this action is quite simple. We went to the headquarters of BlackRock to tell them: the money of workers, for our pensions, they are taking it,” Jerome Schmitt, spokesman for French union SUD said. BlackRock declined to comment.

Protests against the French government’s proposal to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64 for most workers have been ongoing for 11 days across the entire nation. Last month, the government utilized unique constitutional powers to pass the controversial legislation in parliament without a vote.

The changes mean that starting from 2027, individuals will need to work for a longer period of time to be eligible for complete state pension benefits.

The pension reforms were not influenced by BlackRock, which is the world’s largest asset manager. But according to protester Françoise Onic, who spoke to Reuters, the workers targeted the company due to its work for private pension funds.

The government claims that the pension legislation must be implemented to avoid a potential funding shortage. However, workers are upset about the changes, especially given the current increase in living expenses. Last month, inflation in France decreased from a high point in February due to a significant reduction in the increase of energy prices. However, the inflation of food prices increased.

The CGT, which is France’s largest union confederation and is heavily involved in the protests, has stated that capitalism is responsible for numerous issues.

Since the beginning of the year, a rolling strike action in the country has resulted in significant transportation service disruptions as well as disruptions to schools and businesses. On March 23, protests occurred where demonstrators set fires, launched smoke bombs, and damaged property. As a result, about 80 people were arrested and 123 police officers were injured.

Frances interior ministry announced that they will deploy 11,500 law enforcement officers across the country.

The retirement age in this country will remain lower than the typical retirement age in Europe and other developed nations, which is usually 65 and progressively increasing to 67 for full pension benefits.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, France’s spending on state pensions was close to 14% of GDP in 2018, which is higher than most other countries. This means that state pensions in France are more generous compared to other countries.

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