SACCAWU was founded in 1975 as CCAWUSA (The Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union). In 1989 in response to the call by COSATU for One Industry One Union they merged with other unions in the sector to form SACCAWU. The first General Secretary was the Union stalwart, Emma Mahinini and Makhulu Ledwaba was elected as the first President of CCAWUSA. Both played an instrumental role in the establishment of COSATU with Ledwaba elected as 2nd Vice-President of COSATU.
SACCAWU is an affiliate of COSATU as well as an affiliate of two International Unions, UNI-Global Unions where the General Secretary Bones Skulu serve on the executive as well as serving as President of UN- Africa, and Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco International Network (UIF).
SACCAWU has eight regions; Eastern Cape, Free State/Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Northern, North West-Vaal, Western Cape, and Witwatersrand regions.