Is this normal? I feel like my job is exploiting me.?

I work for the government and have done for the past 3 years, the first year I spent as an apprentice on £3.80 an hour, I was 17 at the time and had to get another job so I could afford to go out with friends. The next year I quit my other job and the upped my pay to £5.50. Once it was time to leave my... show more I work for the government and have done for the past 3 years, the first year I spent as an apprentice on £3.80 an hour, I was 17 at the time and had to get another job so I could afford to go out with friends. The next year I quit my other job and the upped my pay to £5.50.

Once it was time to leave my apprenticeship I started to apply for jobs, I got offered two jobs and picked the one that paid less because it was within the same team. I never expected the difference to be £8,000 a year.

So this job messed me about, they knew I had 4 months left as an apprentice and so they didn't have to commit to hire me so instead they put me on trial. This annoyed me because I didn't get my pay rise and I was doing more work. On the 4th month (2 weeks before) I was due to finish we had a problem with water contamination... my manager was supposed to alert me of the new plans but never did. Because of this he decided to extend my trial by 1 month on week 2 I told the head of our department what had happened and she gave me the job on career grade.

So career grade is something they like to do to save money, instead of giving me the job at 18k, they give you it at 15k and make you earn your way up to 18k.

My friend was recently on this and she get 18k straight away after her 6 month trial... obviously because I did a 5 month trial for my apprenticeship and now a 6 month trial to see if my wage goes up I'm pretty annoyed.
Update: I recently spoke to my manager and she told me that she doubts I'll get the 18k job just because it usually takes a few tries, I'm not willing to wait. At the moment I'm constantly answering phones for my teams and I personally feel like I'm doing more work than some other people in the office. The... show more I recently spoke to my manager and she told me that she doubts I'll get the 18k job just because it usually takes a few tries, I'm not willing to wait. At the moment I'm constantly answering phones for my teams and I personally feel like I'm doing more work than some other people in the office. The other day half my team went out to the units, these are people who get 2x I get and 3 of them went to pick up 1 bag leaving me to answer the phones.
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