The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has secret plans to retrench at least 3000 staff by the end of 2015, the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) claimed on Wednesday.
Sandu national secretary Pikkie Greeff said in a statement that the SANDF would start retrenchments next year.
"It has been reported to Sandu that National Treasury has instructed the department of defence to enforce drastic expenditure cuts over the next three years...," he said.
According to present defence planning, this would be achieved by cutting the jobs of thousands of soldiers, said Greeff.
Sandu claimed one percent of SANDF staff would be retrenched next year, two percent in 2014, and three percent the following year.
"Sandu is perturbed by the fact that these measures are being shielded from public scrutiny and kept from the very soldiers who are all, collectively, potential victims of such mass retrenchments," Greeff said.
The union demanded that the plans be revealed to the soldiers and that their labour rights be respected.
Greeff expressed concern that perceived secrecy could "undermine morale and create fertile breeding ground for dissent and instability".
The union was also concerned that the SANDF would be unable to meet its domestic and foreign commitments if it proceeded with job cuts.
SANDF spokesman Brig-Gen Xolani Mabanga said he was unaware of the claims and would comment later in the day.