A union leader at Toyota's Venezuelan unit was shot dead by gunmen on Tuesday, a few weeks after the Japanese automaker said it might leave the country because of chronic labor problems, news agency reports said.

Argenis Valasquez was gunned down outside his home as he was leaving for work at a Toyota plant in eastern Venezuela, reports said.

Labor disputes and strikes have become frequent in Venezuela. In January, two workers were shot to death as police broke up a protest at a plant that assembles Mitsubishi and Hyundai models.