08/01/2011 04:38 EDT | Updated 10/01/2011 05:12 EDT

Air Canada says it has reached a tentative deal with flight attendants

MONTREAL - Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) said Monday it has reached a tentative collective agreement with the union representing about 6,800 flight attendants.

The Montreal-based carrier said the deal with the Canadian Union of Public Employees is subject to member ratification and approval by Air Canada's board of directors.

Details of the agreement weren't immediately released.

Susan Welscheid, senior vice-president of customer service, said the tentative agreement "maintains industry-leading compensation and benefits for Air Canada's flight attendants while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the airline."

The flight attendants had requested the help of a conciliator.

The agreement follows a three-day strike by Air Canada's customer service workers, represented by the Canadian Auto Workers union, over key issues such as pensions and wages.

The two sides came to an agreement shortly after federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt prepared back-to-work legislation.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents mechanics and baggage handlers at Air Canada, was scheduled to return to the bargaining table in July.

Pilots had rejected a tentative agreement and were also slated to return to negotiations.

The unions have each said the main issue is over the establishment a defined contribution pension plan for new hires, instead of the current defined benefit plan —the same sticking point as with the customer service workers.

With defined contribution plans, the company's contribution is limited to a set, negotiated amount and payouts to retirees depend on the performance of the underlying investments. Defined benefit plans require a set amount to be paid to retirees.