Shimano accused of using “modern slave” labor

[Ugly story and huge if accurate. The ugly side of the rapid demand spike duringCOVID.


I do wonder if this came out of the ransomware attack……

Kwang Li industries that makes parts for Shimano, important distinction…

For sure some of the quality of their components went down significantly, which is also confirmed by my LBS, an official reseller

It is the responsibility of the company sourcing products to fully vet and monitor contracted factories.

Our factory, which we own, must pass yearly audits with independent, 3rd party agencies contracted by our customers. We don’t just get to say “trust us…we don’t use slave or child labor”.

Shimano holds as much blame as Kwang Li.


It is easy to say companies need to vet their supply chains but doing it is not. I know a lot of companies try. The certification agencies are full of grift, the farther out your supply chain goes the harder it is to personally review. Literally every Lithium battery can be tracked to artisanal mines. It is everywhere (I used to vet suppliers everywhere, I have seen things). Chasing cheap has very high costs. Until people are willing to pay what it would cost their neighbors to make what they need you have this risk.


Sure. Blame the consumer. It’s not a question of whether “people are willing to pay.” It’s a question of regulating industries and slapping them with adequate punishment when caught. If that drives the price up “beyond what people are willing to pay,” I guess the company goes out of business. Shimano is not the victim here.

(If true).

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I think there’s more responsibility when a firm has a contract with a supplier to manufacture their products compared to buying a product or an input. In the first case there’s some research or inspection of the production process, materials, quality control, if they can comply with delivery times etc. Unlike, if they were just buying batteries or bearings, for example, where the only inspect the final product.

Btw, I’m not saying Shimano was aware of this but they do have responsibility, at least enough to investigate it. Also, they have a plant in the same region, so they know the local labor conditions.

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Nobody in cycling cares about where products are made, or how they’re made.

It’s a sad state of affairs.

Like most things, this story will just blow over. The Shimano crank recall is much bigger news, because it affects consumers directly.

Always have and always will.


From my observation this becomes a distinction without a difference. Eventually the supply chain gets out of a firm’s line of sight. Where was the steel milled? How was the ore transported? Where did it come from? Certifications get falsified, employees are busy and may not even have time to vet (or budget to travel). The more complex the product the farther this goes. I think “blame the consumer” sounds bad, but if people started reflecting on where things come from it would be a good start. I am just as guilty as the next guy for wanting a deal, but since seeing some horrible worker conditions it makes you pause and not just jump at a low price. I do expect a brands to do everything they can.


Not really clear to me how it can be unreasonable to expect the seller to be responsible because the supply chains are too long, but yet OK to blame the consumer, who is another step further removed again. :person_shrugging:


havnt read the article but I seem to get the gist of it from the title. Not saying its ok, but the computers that this article was typed on were probably made in the same or worse “sweat shop” conditions


It’s easy for the consumer. Buy products that are made in first world countries when possible.

But people don’t give a shit until someone writes an article. Then they pretend to give a shit for awhile until it blows over.

“Made in USA” has next to zero value in this industry. It’s pathetic.


This is part of overseas and outsourcing manufacturing. You’ve got to constantly monitor your supply chains for this kind of thing.

I did work for a technical apparel company, and they had constant issues with labor monitoring and material substitution. That whole industry talks to one another and has a shared database of bad characters after Nike had major issues made public.

Having been in a lot of “this is not a sweatshop”s, I can tell you that it can be hard to tell the difference between a legit labor force and something sketchy unless you hang around the plant for a while. I wouldn’t accuse any company of being sketchy after a finding like this. It happens. They’ll make corrections.

I haven’t read the article, but the Telegraph is a hyper conservative news org that regularly puts out pieces celebrating harassing cyclists.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was another hit piece trying to dismantle a industry that they don’t agree with. I would take anything said with a huge grain of salt.

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There is a big difference between not having some proper safety equipment or improperly marked exits and the findings against Kwang Li….some really serious charges in there.


Look at the bike or auto industry. Stellantis and Hyundai have increased their profits 50% over the last 5 years. Its not customers not willing to pay a price. It is corporate greed in making things as cheap as possible, buying components as cheap as possible. Then gouging the consumer and using profits for Management bonuses and stock buy backs that increase management compensation. Then we can blame governments for being bribed to allow dodgy tax laws so profits can be taxed out of country at much lower rates.

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“Made in USA” has next to zero value anywhere, period. Unless you’re hanging around a bunch of economics nationalists. People didn’t not buy American cars because they were expensive. They didn’t buy them because they were shit. :slight_smile:

Not to belabor the point, but some other fine journalism produced by the Telegraph: