It's nice to see a media storm staying in its teacup, for once

Boeing's shares go up, in spite of everything.

The 787 Dreamliner battery problems have been an ongoing background drone amid the business news for some time, but it looks like the coverage hasn't affected the share price. In fact Boeing shares rose 12 per cent this year.

This could be because Boeing's main business is not the 787, but the 737 - narrower crafts of which they'll deliver 900 in the next two years (as opposed to 200 787s), and of which there are rumors of a $18bn deal this week with Ryanair. Boeing's 2011 to 2014 shipments are also expected to grow an average 15 per cent annually. So if you're a sensible investor, you won't have paid much attention to all the battery stuff.

Still, the usual consensus is that media coverage affects share price far more than it should - not because investors are too gullible, but because they think other investors are. This even extends to twitter/facebook/youtube - at least according to this recent study by Arthur O’Connor, which seems to suggest a clear link between share price and positive social media mentions. (This hedge fund is trying to get in on the act by offering investors "mood analysis" of twitter, which they translate to the stock market. They do this in a fairly crude manner - looking at the frequency of words such as "calm" in relation with certain stocks - but it's an interesting idea.)

Boeing investors are either very strong minded, or haven't been keeping up with the news. Either way, it's refreshing.

A 787 Dreamliner. Photograph: Getty Images
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How tribunal fees silenced low-paid workers: “it was more than I earned in a month”

The government was forced to scrap them after losing a Supreme Court case.

How much of a barrier were employment tribunal fees to low-paid workers? Ask Elaine Janes. “Bringing up six children, I didn’t have £20 spare. Every penny was spent on my children – £250 to me would have been a lot of money. My priorities would have been keeping a roof over my head.”

That fee – £250 – is what the government has been charging a woman who wants to challenge their employer, as Janes did, to pay them the same as men of a similar skills category. As for the £950 to pay for the actual hearing? “That’s probably more than I earned a month.”

Janes did go to a tribunal, but only because she was supported by Unison, her trade union. She has won her claim, although the final compensation is still being worked out. But it’s not just about the money. “It’s about justice, really,” she says. “I think everybody should be paid equally. I don’t see why a man who is doing the equivalent job to what I was doing should earn two to three times more than I was.” She believes that by setting a fee of £950, the government “wouldn’t have even begun to understand” how much it disempowered low-paid workers.

She has a point. The Taylor Review on working practices noted the sharp decline in tribunal cases after fees were introduced in 2013, and that the claimant could pay £1,200 upfront in fees, only to have their case dismissed on a technical point of their employment status. “We believe that this is unfair,” the report said. It added: "There can be no doubt that the introduction of fees has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of cases brought."

Now, the government has been forced to concede. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Unison’s argument that the government acted unlawfully in introducing the fees. The judges said fees were set so high, they had “a deterrent effect upon discrimination claims” and put off more genuine cases than the flimsy claims the government was trying to deter.

Shortly after the judgement, the Ministry of Justice said it would stop charging employment tribunal fees immediately and refund those who had paid. This bill could amount to £27m, according to Unison estimates. 

As for Janes, she hopes low-paid workers will feel more confident to challenge unfair work practices. “For people in the future it is good news,” she says. “It gives everybody the chance to make that claim.” 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.