Executives at a Scottish council are in line for above-inflation pay rises that are considerably in excess of what is currently being offered to its workers.

SNP-led Renfrewshire Council's chief executive David Martin has proposed that his 26 most senior staff receive pay deals of up to 16.7% over two years. This would take a director's salary through the £100,000 mark and give heads of service an £11,000-plus increase by April next year.

Union leaders said the proposal was "insensitive" as they move to ballot for strike action after rejecting a 2.5% pay offer, while council workers in England will strike next month.

Over the past three years, the number of chief officers on two of the highest salary levels in the council has been reduced from 34 to 26, saving the council more than £700,000. The pay rise is expected to be approved tomorrow by councillors in the local authority which is controlled by the Nationalists with LibDem support. It will cost £321,000.

Directors of departments will see their pay increase from £95,583 to £101,985. Heads of service will go up from £66,873 to £78,045.

Mr Martin said recruitment and retention was an issue and demands on senior management have increased as a result of the changed top-level structure and their role is more complex since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

He said: "Over the last few years it has become increasingly difficult to attract the highest-calibre candidates for senior management posts, while retention of skilled senior staff is now also becoming a workforce planning issue. Since 2006 several local authorities in Scotland have reviewed chief officer packages, with the result that Renfrewshire has become increasingly uncompetitive in the labour market."

Education staff have been angered by the council's plan, coming at a time when they say budget cuts will lead to the loss of between 50 and 100 teaching posts in secondary schools.

At a meeting of more than 200 teachers from Renfrewshire, EIS representative Ian McCrone said: "In the past couple of months our part-time teachers have had their hours cut, their services dispensed with, their service broken, sick pay rights lost, their job prospects taken away. They will be interested to know there is still enough money - £321,000, the cost of eight teacher jobs - to regrade senior officers."

Officials of other unions said that, if it was good enough for senior staff, then a similar deal should be offered to all council workers.

Mark Ferguson, branch secretary of Unison's Renfrewshire Council branch, said: "While it is important that all our staff are paid a fair salary for their responsibil-ities, it is deeply insensitive for the council to suggest such major increases for senior staff, whilst at the same time through Cosla they are proposing what is in effect a pay cut to the rest of their staff.

"If it is the case that they need to pay more to senior staff to attract and retain the best candidates, we suggest that they might want to consider paying more - rather than less to other staff for the same reason."

Unions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have announced strike action on July 15 and 16, over a 2.45% offer. Scottish workers will conduct their own ballot next month. Leaders in Scotland want a 5% deal or a £1000 increase.

A spokesman for Renfrewshire Council said: "It is unfair and inaccurate to misrepresent a salary review for a specific group of employees by comparing it to the standard national pay negotiations for all employees.

"In our dealings on pay and conditions, Renfrewshire Council has made it a top priority to address the concerns of the vast majority of our employees before even looking at the significantly changed responsibilities of senior staff.

"We have put an additional £22m into addressing equal pay issues, mainly for lower-paid female workers."