MADRID- Spain on Monday welcomed efforts by banks to reduce the number of initially planned layoffs after talks with unions, while calling on lenders to explore new paths to profitability.
Comisiones Obreras, Spain's largest financial sector union, has called for a one-day-strike on Tuesday in protest at plans by Caixabank to cut to cut more than 7,5000 jobs.
Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino told a financial event in Santander that she hoped Caixabank and unions will reach an agreement regarding layoffs.
"I appreciate that the restructuring processes are being carried out in a negotiated way, in some cases an agreement has been reached and in others an agreement with the workers' representatives is getting closer," Calvino said.
However, she also said that the Spanish banking sector's focus should not only be based on cutting staff or branches.
"If the sector is to return to a path of profitability (...) we need banks to deploy new and profitable business areas," Calvino said, without specifying what these might be.
Caixabank said in April it was planning to cut 8,291 jobs, one of the largest such culls in Spanish history, though it later offered to bring that number down to around 7,605, in order to adapt to a client shift towards online banking.
And this month, thousands of BBVA employees held a one-day-strike, the first just stoppage involving a bank at a national level in 30 years, to protest against plans by Spain's second largest bank set out in April to initially cut 3,798 jobs.
BBVA reached an agreement with unions a week to lay off 2,935 employees in Spain and also reduced the closure of branches to 480 from initially 530.
On Monday, BBVA chairman Carlos Torres said that activities that used to have an added value and were carried out in branches "are increasingly no longer necessary because the customer interacts with the bank remotely or digitally".
(Reporting by Jes?s Aguado; Editing by Alexander Smith) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +34 91 585 8339; Reuters Messaging: Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))