Conditions on board commercial sailing ships were miserable.
On long voyages, food and water went bad and hygienic conditions were lower than for animals in a stable.
If they suspected that a ship was poorly prepared, it wasn’t uncommon for the crew to strike the main sail, making it impossible to go to sea until conditions improved.
This gave us the word strike to describe any extreme action by labor against management.
A severe labor dispute is also called a “strike”.