Self-service supermarket checkouts - a handy way to save time or a return to the Industrial Revolution, putting people out of work?

Lewisham Green Party - very much in the latter camp - is calling on Sainsbury's customers to contact the company and request an end to their push for more people to use self-service machines.

It comes after they spotted a sign at the Lewisham branch showing a target for 59 per cent of customers to use the self-service tills.

The Greens' Brockley election candidate Violeta Vadja said: "The savings from replacing staff with self-service tills aren't being passed on to customers and clearly aren't being passed on to staff.

"Giving shop staff targets for use of these machines is, in effect, giving them a target to do themselves out of job in one of London's lowest paid boroughs."

And her Ladywell colleague Andrea Carey-Fuller added: "Many people don't like using self-service tills either for technical reasons, because they enjoy the human contact of speaking to a shop assistant or because they would rather help keep somebody in a job than hasten their way to the dole queue.

"We are returning to the days of the Industrial Revolution where mechanisation increased profits at the expense of jobs and wages. We can't allow this to keep on happening. As employees, benefit claimants and taxpayers the people of Lewisham can't afford to let this keep on happening."

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury's said: "The Lewisham Green Party is wrong in its assumption. We have self-checkouts in our stores to give our customers a choice as we know some prefer to use them while others prefer being served by a colleague on a checkout.

"We are committed to creating thousands of job opportunities with around 6,000 created last year. Indeed our Lewisham store has over 140 colleagues and is currently recruiting for new roles with five new colleagues starting on Monday (MARCH 31)."