Transport unions in Tamil Nadu withdrew their eight-day-long strike on Thursday evening, ANI reported. Centre of Indian Trade Unions leader A Soundarajan also announced that transport workers would resume duties from Friday.

The strike had continued on Thursday despite transport unions agreeing to a 2.44-times hike in workers’ wages on Wednesday, against their earlier demand of a 2.57-times increase. Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami had also announced that the state would release Rs 750 crore to pay retirement dues of transport workers, and urged the unions to withdraw the strike.

However, on Thursday, the unions told the Madras High Court that they would resume work immediately if the court would refer the wage dispute to arbitration. The court subsequently passed an order appointing former High Court judge E Padmanabhan as an arbitrator, The Times of India reported.

“In the interest of children, students, patients, elders, commuters and larger section of the society, the issue has been referred to the arbitrator to adjudicate the wage dispute and the effective date of such revision of wage,” the High Court bench said. However, it refused to accept the transporters’ other demands – that the government should pay transport workers wages for the strike period and drop all criminal cases against them.

The Tamil Nadu government had hired temporary drivers to run buses over the last eight days. But several accidents took place across the state and the number of deaths during the strike rose to six on Tuesday.