Ake Achi doesn’t remember when he started working on his family’s plantation in Ivory Coast. “Since I could walk,” he says. There was no nursery or childcare, so he and his sister would go to the fields with his mother. But his parents had relatives in France; and so the two children, at the age of 11, were awoken in the middle of the night and bundled into a car for hope of a better life.
Just over a decade ago he moved to London to improve his English and seek opportunities. It was a life of hard graft. He juggled a full-time job as a security guard with full-time studies at Kingston University. Today he is a full-time union organiser, helping workers to combat injustices perpetrated by the powerful but all too often blamed on migrants. He has also founded Right2workuk, to protect Britain’s migrants’ right to work.
Achi is part of a new movement – One Day Without Us, or 1DWU – that seeks to give Britain’s frequently demonised migrants their own voice. On Monday, as thousands again take to the streets to protest at Theresa May’s kowtowing to Donald Trump, migrants will also organise to challenge the xenophobia surging on our own side of the Atlantic. Across Britain migrants and non-migrants alike will be encouraged to link arms, grip their placards and take a picture in a national show of solidarity.
“Immigrants have always been blamed when things go wrong in a country,” says Achi. The government now bans non-EU skilled workers from settling in…