Rodney Sharpe delivered daily and Sunday papers on a 21-mile round in Maidenhead for Midcounties Co-op for over two decades. 64 years old, he suffers from diabetes and walks with a stick. Each round took around 4 ½ hours to complete.

While classed as a ‘worker’ by the co-op, Rodney received no paid holiday or sick pay. He realised that he was earning well below the minimum wage, as little as £3.15 an hour, about £85 a week. Initially reluctant to mention his concerns out of fear of being told to leave, he eventually submitted a complaint to HM Revenue and Customs.

An internal review overseen by an HMRC Treasury low-pay inspector found that Rodney had been underpaid for four years. The co-op admitted to its mistake, awarding Rodney £14,000 in back pay, the largest single payout to a worker for breaching minimum wage rules.

Shortly after this, another delivery worker made a separate complaint to HMRC, saying that he took home as little as 69p an hour on some days. The co-op began looking into 200 other possible cases of illegal low pay.

Take action: join the campaign

Related stories


“I was a picker, taking items from the shelves in the warehouse. Our speed was timed, and if you were slow you got a strike.”


“I never thought that this would be a label that ever applied to me – a modern day slave.”


In his home town of in the Czech Republic, Jan struck up a relationship with a girl. Unknown to him, the girl was a family member of a trafficking ring in Plymouth.

    Sign up to our mailing list

    We hold and manage your details in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018. We won’t share, sell or swap your information with other organisations for their own marketing purposes.