A bombshell of a report on PetaPixel reveals just how sudden last month's closure of 94-year-old UK photographic lighting company Bowens has been, especially for its employees. An infuriated UK employee reached out to the photography blog to share their story, and the whole workforce of Bowens China has sent an email to the company to complain about how the process is being handled.
The UK employee, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed anger at how the liquidation has been handled, specifically citing issues with pay. The employee alleges that, "26 of the most hard working members in the UK [...] were in complete shock [on July 14th] to be informed that they will be unpaid for the previous month, and will have to continue to work through a consultation process unpaid." (See Official Statement)
The employee claims the UK crew was told they would have to continue working because they are bound by contract. Staff are reportedly considering legal action.
These claims are backed up by an email sent to Bowens and Calumet distributors by the workforce of Bowens China, and acquired by PetaPixel.
The letter claims employees of Bowens Suzhou were "suddenly abandoned" with "no July wages, no social insurance, [and] no updated information since Germany let us stop work [on the] 17th July." The employees took to the streets and the German embassy to protest what they're describing as "dishonest betrayal" and "bloody exploitations" by Aurelius and Calumet.
For their part, Calumet did respond to PetaPixel's request for comment. The company sent a statement in which it re-states the reasons for closing Bowens ("the result of far reaching changes affecting its market") before addressing the concerns in China, saying:
"As part of the decision to discontinue its operations Bowens consequently also decided to discontinue the manufacturing operations in China [...] The liquidation process is handled according to all local laws and requirements and the employees will be informed in due course on next steps."
You can read Calumet's full statement on PetaPixel. However, DPReview has reached out to Calumet for comment as well, specifically asking Calumet to address the claim that employees were not paid for July and are contractually bound to continue working without pay.
UPDATE/CORRECTION: Calumet has responded to our request for comment, responding with two statements regarding both pay, and the situation in China.
1. The UK Bowens company has paid all due salaries for July. The allegations been raised about this matter are simply wrong.
2. The situation in China is currently under legal advice on the formal filing procedures for liquidation and Bowens UK regrets not to be able to make any payments into China until receiving legal clearance with respect to both liquidations processes.