SACCAWU (South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union) was founded in 1975 as CCAWUSA (Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union of South Africa)

From inception was one of the most militant, engaged in a wave of strikes given the repressive and gross, brutal naked exploitative nature of the sectors of her scope at the time and a champion of gender equality and parental rights: “Women Are Workers Too – Children Are Workers Of Tomorrow”; were but part of the chanting and rallying slogans in pursuit and advancement of this noble cause.

In 1989, in response to the clarion call and one of COSATU’s founding principles of One Industry One Union – One Country One Federation, merged with other unions in the sector to form SACCAWU.

This merger process was more of an amalgamation as all other unions were rather small, being Cape Liquor & Catering Workers Union (CLCWU) initially known as Cape Liquor And Catering Trade Employees’ Union; Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union (HARWU) and Retail & Allied Workers Union (RAWU).

The founding General Secretary was the legendary Union stalwart, Comrade Emma Mashinini with Comrade Makhulu Ledwaba elected as the first President of CCAWUSA whilst Comrade Isaac Padi was the National Chairperson and Comrade Dinah Nhlapo, the National Treasurer; respectively .

Both Comrades Emma and Makhulu, as the then General Secretary and President and SACCAWU representatives in the Unity Talks, played an instrumental and pivotal role in the establishment of COSATU and quite central in four (4) years long unity talks preceding the launch in 1985; with Comrade Makhulu Ledwaba elected the 2nd Deputy President at the COSATU inaugural Congress.

SACCAWU is an affiliate of COSATU as well as affiliated to two Global Union Federations (GUFs) initially known as International Trade Secretariats (ITSs) being UNI Global Union (UNI: Union Network International) and International Union of Food, Agriculture, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations   (IUF). With the General Secretary, Comrade Bones Skulu having for years served on UNI-Global Union Executive as well as the President of UNI-Africa; with some leaders of SACCAWU participating and members of various sub-committees and structures of both IUF and UNI Global Union, both Continentally and Globally; including Trade Union Alliance formations developed for purposes of coordination of campaigns against Multinational/Transnational Corporations of both Domestic and Foreign/Global origin; with the 1st Deputy President, Comrade Angie Phetlhe, the current IUF-Africa President whilst the National Gender Coordinator, Comrade Patricia Nyman-Appolis is the current UNI Global Women’s President.