The French prime minister has called on trade unions and business entrepreneurs to work hand in hand towards a common objective: ensuring that by 2010 half the countrys pensioners are in work. The idea is to make sure that pensioner employment levels increase by 2 per cent every year for the over 55s, starting immediately.

Currently only 44 per cent of the over 55s in France are in gainful employment. There has been a call for a cultural revolution to get these seniors back in the work force

The real issue is one of pensions. There is a fear that by 2050 there will far more people in retirement than at work, some estimates say that 70 per cent could be in retirement, with only 30 per cent of the working population contributing financially towards their pension payments.

This push to return pensioners to the work place has however been complicated by union negotiations regarding special provisions for those who are working in jobs involving strenuous physical labour, which are unsuited to older workers