Anger over topless modelling shoot in Polish state-owned coal mine

Pictures have emerged of a topless photoshoot that took place in a state-owned coal mine, with models in various states of undress posing alongside miners operating equipment.

Following complaints from an MP, the mine’s owner has declared that it had no knowledge of the photo session – which it says was organised under false pretences – and has promised consequences against those responsible as well as anyone who violated health and safety codes.

Uwaga! To nie żart. To sesja zdjęciowa w kopalni Bogdanka (Pole Stefanów, 28 października 2023 r.). I to nie są górniczki. Czy po zaręczynach przyszedł czas na wieczór kawalerski pod ziemią?

— Marta Wcisło (@WcisloMarta123) November 2, 2023

“Note: This is not a joke. This is a photo shoot at the Bogdanka mine…And these are not miners,” tweeted Marta Wcisło, an MP from Civic Coalition (KO), Poland’s largest opposition group yesterday.

She attached a collage of photographs supposedly taken during the shoot, which she said took place on 28 October. They show half-naked women and appear to have been taken during normal mine operations. Miners can be welding in the background, near the models.

Wcisło told local news service Jawny Lublin that the images have been circulating among staff at LW Bogdanka, the mine’s owner, for several days. LW Bogdanka is majority-owned by Enea, an energy group that is itself majority-owned by the state treasury and is Poland’s second-largest electricity producer.

The MP said that, while Bogdanka has hosted photo sessions before, never of a similar nature. “This session ridicules the work of the miners and the mine itself. It brings Bogdanka down to a level that seriously damages its image,” she declared.

Poland, the EU’s most coal-dependent country, saw its share of electricity generated from coal drop from 86.6% in 2010 to 70.8% in 2021.

Renewables grew from 6.9% to 16.9% over the same period

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) March 1, 2022

In response, LW Bogdanka issued a statement saying that it “was not informed about the controversial nature of the photo session”. It said that the firm which applied for permission for the photoshoot, ATUT Śląskie Przedsiębiorstwo Inwestycyjne, had said it wanted to take pictures of mining equipment.

The mine’s owner also noted that the incident took place at a weekend, when the site is managed by a third party, meaning it was not aware of what took place.

“LW Bogdanka does not and will not create or promote calendars containing nude photographs of women,” the company said, adding that it was considering filing a claim against ATUT Śląskie Przedsiębiorstwo Inwestycyjne for intentionally misleading it.

The firm also said that any employees, both those employed by it and by the third party, who had failed to comply with safety rules “will be subject to the harshest professional consequences provided for in the labour code”

The combined death toll from accidents at two coal mines in Poland now stands at 11, with some miners still missing

The PM has pledged state support for the families and „appropriate action” if the tragedies are discovered to have resulted from negligence

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) April 25, 2022

Today, the head of the Bogdanka miners’ trade union, Jacek Świrszcz, told broadcaster Polsat that miners have “no influence” over such photoshoots, which are the responsibility of “operational managers”.

“There are specific procedures that must be met, [such as] training for various escape devices, and medical examinations,” said Świrszcz, who noted that decisions on whether those conditions have been met are made by managers. He refused to give an opinion on whether safety procedures had been violated in this case.

Świrszcz added that many such photoshoots had taken place in the mine before, including some of a similarly sexual nature “from what I have seen on workplace posters”.

Sesja fotograficzna w Bogdance. Związkowiec: Już wcześniej się odbywały.

— (@PolsatNewsPL) November 3, 2023

Main image credit: Marta Wcisło /

Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

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