THE government is set to refuse to recognise unions that represent soldiers.

THE government is set to refuse to recognise unions that represent soldiers.

Yesterday President Jacob Zuma announced the establishment of a Military Services Commission (MSC) to solve problems of disgruntled soldiers.

Zuma also indicated that the new commission would not be a negotiating forum for soldiers' unions.

"Soldiers are not like ordinary workers. If we confuse soldiers with other workers, it will be like saying the security of the country rests with unions. Unions cannot guarantee the safety of the country."

The new commission, to be run by the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, will also regulate the conditions of service for the military.

The MSC's functions include paying special attention to soldiers' complaints about bad wages, poor accommodation and others. It will also set down soldiers' conditions of service.

Zuma described the conduct of the soldiers who were fired for marching on the Union Buildings earlier this month as "despicable in the extreme".

Cosatu and the South African Security Forces Union (Sasfu) say they won't support the new commission if it excludes the unions.

"We will have to look into it but our view is that trade unions are necessary in the SANDF," Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said.

President of Sasfu Bhekinkosi Mvovo described the commission as a joke.

"They do not want to involve the unions because we have been very critical of certain generals, like (Minister of Communications) Siphiwe Nyanda.

"Instead of solving problems, these generals established companies in the defence industry and got rich," Mvovo said.