Platform work is often advocated as offering freedom of work to labour. Contesting this claim, this article undertakes a comparative analysis of the pros and cons of food delivery platform work prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and argues that the freedom of food delivery platform workers is essentially an ‘illusory freedom’. In reality, platform work has only changed mechanisms through which companies can exercise control over labour and evade their employer obligations. As a case, the article examines the illusory freedom of food delivery platform workers associated to Uber Eats in Japan. The collective bargaining efforts of food delivery workers against the excessive control of Uber Eats and the extent of success of these efforts are also examined. The article concludes by discussing the possible factors that have undermined the effectiveness of the collective bargaining efforts of the labour union.