WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Times are so tough in Romania that a steelworker spent his vacation hawking rugs in Warsaw.

''I've got eight days holiday, so I've come to Poland to make some money,'' said Andre, the only name he gave. His wares were spread over two cars beside the road in a Warsaw suburb.

Andre, on his second rug-selling foray into Poland, offered a 6x9-foot carpet for the equivalent of $126.

''I can work all month and still only make enough money to buy a pair of jeans,'' he said, fingering his dirty trousers.

''The situation in Romania is bad. ... Prices have gone up three or four times, while wages are still the same as they were before.''

Looking into a shop window piled high with fruit, he said: ''I've got four children at home and I can't even buy oranges for them. ... Whatever money I make, I will use to buy clothes, and perhaps things like Coca-Cola, for the children.''

Andre and some colleagues drove for days, mostly through the Soviet Union, from their industrial town of Suceava, 330 miles away in northern Romania.

''What is really awful is that we had to wait three days in a line to cross the border'' into Poland, he said.

Long lines have developed at border stations in Eastern Europe as Bulgarians, Romanians and Soviets fleeing economic hardships head for more prosperous Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

The economic migrants buy the few cheap goods available in their own countries, sell them in countries where there is more money to spend, and use the proceeds to buy goods in demand back home.

Andre and the others didn't spend their money on hotel rooms in Warsaw, despite below-freezing temperatures.

''We camp in tents we brought with us,'' he said. ''There's a great camp site not far from here. It very cold, but it is cheap.''

Business is brisk at the many markets created by the visiting hawkers on truck tailgates, folding tables and quickly erected huts.

When a woman turned and left after hearing the price of Romanian carpets, Andre shouted after her: ''I'll bargain with you 3/8''

End Adv Monday PMs Feb 4