Major companies in the information technology sector in India have formed a “cartel” to keep salaries for entry-level engineers low, former Infosys board member TV Mohandas Pai has claimed, calling it “ethically and morally wrong”. He said these companies take advantage of the “over-supply” of engineers, PTI reported on Wednesday.

“There is a cartel...there is no doubt,” Pai said. “They [big IT companies] talk to each other, they sometimes tell each other not to increase [entry-level salaries]. That’s been there for a long time.”

The former chief financial officer of Infosys urged top companies in the sector to pay better salaries to freshers. “They can afford to pay better salaries,” Pai said. “They have to make sure they don’t pay more at the top, and they pay more at the bottom. They have to learn to adjust.”

Taking into account inflation, Pai estimated that salaries of freshers in the industry had not risen but had actually declined by half in the last seven years. He said this trend was “totally wrong”, and claimed it was responsible for the high attrition rate of new employees. It also discouraged talent, he said.

“People who are paid low should get more,” he said, adding that the most talented freshers do not want to join the industry. “It is important for them [companies] to raise the salary, make sure people at the bottom feel much more comfortable.”