The ongoing strikes in France, led by left wing unions and student groups, are opposing the raising of the minimum retirement age in France from 60 to 62. If you read Idiot Savant you'd think the Sarkozy administration plans are about funding tax cuts for the rich. If you take off your economically illiterate red coloured glasses you'd learn that it is actually about starting to confront the economic reality that the French Government cannot perpetually run budget deficits, like it has for several decades.
If nothing was to be done, by 2050 two working age French people would be paying the retirement income of one. With public debt set to hit 337% of GDP by then (it is 80% now), France will make Greece look like a mild defaulter.
Of course in the world of the "see no fiscal reality" left, you simply put up taxes. The legions of young people protesting in favour of protecting pensions shows the ignorance that can so easily be spread, few realising that they will have to pay far more taxes than those who are currently at retirement age, to pay for those who will retire when THEY are in their 50s.
The reason why this is happening is the ponzi scheme madness of government funded pay as you go (PAYGO) pensions. The same crisis would exist in the UK, if the retirement age was not to be increased. In New Zealand the same crisis will occur as well, only partly covered by Dr. Cullen's socialised "fund" designed to invest tax revenue for retirement rather than just operate a PAYGO system. The United States has this crisis writ large as well.
The only way these schemes can be sustained is by reducing what is paid, increasing the eligibility age and increasing the tax contributions of those who might not get anything out of it. A better way would be to simply freeze schemes at their current nominal level so that the total amount paid out erodes over time, but it also enables tax cuts to be implemented over time as well. If people invest their own money in retirement income rather than the state spending it (or "investing" it), there is a greater pool of savings, more capital for private sector growth and a sustainable basis for retirement income.
However in France, socialism is ingrained in "being French" say some. It is an attitude that also infects the European Union, but one that cannot deft reality forever. People in France might observe that GDP per capita in real terms for that country is now drifting towards that of Greece and Spain, not the UK and Germany. I suspect the French appetite to do anything substantive to stop that relative decline remains low.