A NYT news article described the strikes in France over the increase in the retirement age as being:
"a cents-and-euros struggle to avert the inevitable moment when decades of cumulative benefits — from short work weeks to long vacations, from state health care to early retirement — begin to unravel."
The article presents no evidence as to why it is inevitable that "decades of cumulative benefits begin to unravel." Nor does it present any statements from any expert who supports this view.
In fact, since productivity in France is growing through time (i.e. it is producing more in each hour of work), there is no reason whatsoever that its benefits need unravel. Workers can continue to enjoy increases in after-tax wages while maintaining the welfare state at its current level.
The comment about the "inevitable" unraveling of the French welfare state is an expression of distaste on the part of the NYT that should be left to the opinion pages.