SIXTEEN of the higher paid workers at Worcestershire County Council are getting a one per cent pay rise, sparking anger.

Chief officers, who earn between £73,000 and £85,000 for heading departments across County Hall, have secured the increases from April despite claims they earn enough.

The rise has been heavily criticised by the opposition Labour group, which tried to block it during behind-closed-doors discussions earlier this month.

Your Worcester News can reveal an in-house body, called the appointments panel, met to debate it, during which Labour group leader Councillor Peter McDonald called for it to be scrapped.

But his plea was rejected after members of the Conservative group said it would bring chief officers in line with teachers, who had a one per cent rise last year.

The rises come amid a backdrop of heavy job cuts at the council, with at least 600 posts being axed by 2017 as part of a plan to save £98million.

Rank-and-file workers have yet to be told if they will get any rise at all this April, with the council saying no announcement will be due until the spring.

Coun McDonald, who sat on the panel which made the decision, said: “These chief officers are saying ‘the teachers had this one per cent rise, so we deserve one, too’.

“These are people who earn from £73,000 to £85,000 already.

"We do not have to do this, there is no reason why we should. When you think the rest of the staff haven’t been given any assurances, I don’t think it’s right at all.”

But the Tory leadership says another freeze would have meant a fifth successive year without a rise.

Directors’ salaries are being frozen, while the chief executive role is facing a cut of £25,000 to £151,000 once Trish Haines retires in the spring.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: “The decision to increase senior managers’ pay by one per cent was taken to bring them in line with other council staff and teachers, who received a one per cent pay increase in the previous year.

"To not do so would have meant a fifth year in a row without a pay rise.”

Your Worcester News can also reveal that the city council is giving all its workforce a one per cent pay rise in April. The figure, agreed a few weeks ago internally, has been backed by the unions.