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

Demonstrators forced their way into the building that houses BlackRock's office in Paris Thursday, taking their protest against the government's pension reforms to the world's biggest money manager.

Videos shared on social media showed protesters entering the Centorial office block, located near the Opéra Garnier opera house, holding red flares and firing smoke bombs.

About 100 people, including representatives of several labour unions, were on the ground floor of the building for about 10 minutes, chanting anti-reform slogans. BlackRock's office is located 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, told CNN affiliate BFM-TV. BlackRock declined to comment.

Demonstrators invade BlackRock's office over pensions reforms.
Demonstrators invade BlackRock's office over pensions reforms. Photo credit: Aurelien Morissard/AP

Nationwide protests against the French government's plan to raise the retirement age for most workers from 62 to 64 have now entered their 11th day. The government triggered special constitutional powers last month to push the controversial legislation through parliament without a vote.

The changes mean that, from 2027, people will have to work longer to receive full state pension benefits.

BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, has played no part in the pension reforms. But workers targeted the company because of its work for private pension funds, according to protester Françoise Onic, a school teacher who spoke to Reuters.

The government has said the pension legislation is necessary to prevent a looming funding deficit, but the reforms have angered workers at a time of rising living costs. French inflation fell last month from a record in February, thanks to a sharp slowdown in energy price rises, but food price inflation accelerated.

Representatives of CGT, France's biggest confederation of unions and a key player in the protests, have denounced capitalism as the cause of many problems.

Rolling strike action in the country has caused huge disruption to transport services, schools and businesses since the start of the year. At least 80 people were arrested and 123 police officers injured during protests on March 23, which saw demonstrators setting fires, launching smoke bombs and damaging property.

France's interior ministry said 11,500 law enforcement officers would be deployed across the country on Thursday.

The country's new retirement age will still be below the norm in Europe and in many other developed economies, where the age at which full pension benefits apply is 65 and is increasingly moving towards 67.

State pensions in France are also more generous than elsewhere. At nearly 14% of GDP in 2018, the country's spending on state pensions is larger than in most other countries, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.