Branch members picket a Steak House during a strike in 1978

The Unite 1647 Restaurant and Bar Staff Branch was formed in 1972. At that time the Branch was part of the Transport and General Workers Union which was one of the two large unions which merged to form Unite the Union. The Branch was set up by Portuguese migrant workers employed in Hotels and Restaurants. At first it was called the Portuguese Workers' Branch, but as more and more workers, both migrant and British joined the branch, it changed its name to the International Catering Workers Branch.

Over the past 40 years the Branch has been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of low paid and migrant workers in restaurants, bars, clubs and catering. Today the Branch has over 2000 members working as kitchen, bar, hospitality and waiting staff and is at the forefront of campaigns such as the London Living Wage and Fair Tips. A second Branch the Central London Hotel Workers Branch was formed in the late 1990's from member in 1647 who work in Hotels. Both branches often run joint actions and protests to highlight injustice by employers.